Saturday 23rd September 2017.
1st Team match report by Nigel Morgan.
Trojans 35 – 37 PRFC.
Portsmouth travelled to Stoneham Lane, on Saturday, to take on the league leaders and local rivals, Trojans. Unfortunately, Andy Barnes had to drop out, injured, on Friday, so player coach, Matt Farnes, returned to make his appearance of the season.
Another late change had to be made as Will Brock was stuck on the M3, in the day long closure. Many thanks to Joe Slater who made a last minute dash from Portsmouth to sit on the bench.
On a great day for rugby, Portsmouth opened the scoring after 7 minutes when the outstanding full back, Stewart Davies, put Curtis Barnes in for a try from the half way line. Alex Duffus kicked our one and only conversion from 15 m out. Score 0-7.
Sloppy defence by Portsmouth ended with the Trojans open side scoring, mostly through weak tackling. Conversion good! Score 7-7 after 13 minutes. At this stage Portsmouth were putting themselves under pressure by giving away a string of unnecessary penalties for various offences, which culminated in Darren Leggott getting a yellow card for not rolling away quick enough at the ruck. From the resulting scrum, the Trojans fly half scored from a wrap around move, exploiting the gap in the Portsmouth 3/4s. Conversion good! Score 14-7.
Right on half time, after good work by the Portsmouth forwards from a catch and drive, Alex Duffus scored from close range, but missed the conversion. Score 14-12 – at half time.
Whatever was said, by coaches Jason Ford and Matt Farnes, at half time certainly worked as, within 2 minutes, left winger Tom Whitehouse scored an excellent try in the corner, taking three tacklers over the line with him. Conversion missed! Score 14-17.
The second half followed a predictable pattern with the Portsmouth forwards upping the intensity and taking the game to Trojans, who were struggling to live with the physicality at times. It was now Trojans giving away penalties under pressure and they got 2 yellow cards within 10 minutes of each other. Portsmouth exploited this with a try by Stewart Davies, from a quickly taken penalty on 52 minutes. Conversion missed! Score 14-22. Greg Hoolihan then scored on 62 minutes. Conversion missed! Score 14-27. Then, Suli Caucau on 65 minutes. Conversion missed! Score 14-32.
From the kick off, Trojans eventually gained some territory in the Portsmouth half for the first time in the second half. Good inter play between forwards and backs saw the excellent Trojans open side score his second try. Conversion kicked! Score 21-32.
Portsmouth immediately hit back, after more good driving work by their forwards, with a second try for Tom Whitehouse, who scored from his best distance, two metres! Conversion missed!
At this stage Trojans appeared to be well beaten with the score at 21-37. However, with 2 minutes to go, Trojans established position in the Portsmouth half and, with their excellent fly half exploiting gaps in the tiring Portsmouth defence, they managed to quickly score 2 converted tries to make the final score 35-37 to a very relieved Portsmouth side.
Portsmouth Captain, Darren Crabb, was very pleased to come away with 5 league points, from what was always going to be a very difficult game, and also the performance of his forwards, in the second half.
The Portsmouth coaching team can take away a lot positives from this game, but knowing that there is still plenty to be worked on in training. Certainly, at least 4 golden try scoring opportunities were left on the pitch, through players not releasing the ball quickly enough or inaccurate use of the hands. Discipline, also, still needs to be improved, especially in the opening quarter of the game.
Next week is another local derby and the first time we have ever welcomed Petersfield to Rugby Camp for a league game. 3pm K.O. ND. This should be a great day with over 100 ex players returning from various eras for the pre match lunch.