Saturday 30th September 2017.
1st Team match report by Jim Dixon.
PRFC 39 – 15 Petersfield.
Portsmouth welcomed almost 100 Former Players to a pre-match lunch at Rugby Camp prior to playing Petersfield in their first ever meeting in League rugby, having only met previously in friendlies or Cup matches, and put on a show they did running out winners by 7 tries to 2 despite having 4 yellow cards issued and at one time being reduced to 13 players.
Portsmouth, through Gareth Richards, kicked off this local derby match and were soon on the score sheet with full back Stewart Davies gathering a kick ahead and passing to winger Curtis Barnes who made good ground before offloading to centre Suli Caucau who crossed the line to score. Caucau took his own conversion but the ball fell off the tee and his kick was charged down. The score was 5 – 0 after 4 minutes. 3 minutes later Portsmouth were able to add to their score when winning turnover ball Portsmouth spun the ball out wide to Barnes who ran half the length of the pitch to score under the posts and with Caucau adding the extras they moved into a 12 – 0 lead. Petersfield then began to put the Home side under pressure and eventually forced a 5 metre scrum. From this scrum they managed to drive the Portsmouth pack over the try line to score their first try. This was converted so the score was now 12 – 7 after 17 minutes. A penalty against Petersfield saw Portsmouth kick to touch and gain a lineout 7 metres from the try line. A good catch and drive resulted in hooker Fooks scoring wide out. The conversion was missed and their lead increased to 17 – 7 after 20 minutes. Petersfield were then able to close the gap following a penalty against the home side for a high tackle. This made the score 17 – 10 with 24 minutes of the half gone. Portsmouth were then given the first of their yellow cards when second row Darren Leggott was carded for a high tackle. Portsmouth, after a period of pressure, won good ball and it was passed through several hands with Barnes finishing of a good move with a score out wide. This was his second and Portsmouth’s 4th giving them a bonus point despite being down to 14 men. The conversion missed and the score now stood at 22 – 10 with 5 minutes of the half remaining. Following a Portsmouth scrum the ball was quickly moved out wide and Barnes scored his third try which was converted by Richards taking the score to 29 – 10. With 2 minutes of the half remaining Portsmouth then lost centre Caucau to a second yellow card for a high tackle. Shortly after Leggott was back on and Portsmouth were back up to 14 and the half time whistle went just after hooker Fooks had been replaced by Greg Hoolihan.
Petersfield kicked of the second half and Portsmouth were soon on the attack taking the game deep into their Opponents half. Eventually with Portsmouth first taking the ball to the left side and then back across the pitch, they were able to put a good pass into the hands of fullback Davies who came into the line and he crossed out wide for a good try. The conversion missed and the score was now 34 – 10 to the Hosts after 4 minutes of the re-start. More pressure from Portsmouth saw them steal a couple of good line out balls but they were unable to add to the score line. Lee Chandler then came on to replace Caucau who had served his 10 minutes in the sin bin. He hadn’t been on long before he got Portsmouth’s 3rd yellow card for yet another high tackle. Several good attacking moves came to nothing as Portsmouth kept trying to add to the score line and with 24 minutes of the half gone Portsmouth then had their 4th. yellow card when Rob Gicquel got his 10 minutes in the sin bin. Petersfield put his absence to good use by then scoring a try from a scrum in which their blind side flanker broke and scored out wide. The conversion missed and the score now stood at 34 – 15 with 8 minutes of the half remaining. Portsmouth were soon back on the attack and with Finn Parry coming on for Prop Parks they continued to keep pressure on their Opponents. Rhys Bowen then come off to be replaced on the blind side flank by Fooks. Another good scoring chance went begging when winger Whitehouse came off his wing and tracked the ball to the opposite wing only to knock on the final pass. Caucau then came back on to replace Matt Farnes. More pressure from Portsmouth saw them set up a good drive for the line and skipper Crabb drove over for what turned out to be the final play of the game as the final whistle went as the kick went wide giving the home side a 39 – 15 victory.
The yellow cards and a high number of penalties certainly didn’t help Portsmouth’s cause but at the end of the day they had too much power and pace for their Opponents. There are some good combinations being formed especially in the centre with Richards and Caucau, the back 3 are also looking dangerous with ball in hand and the second row partnership of Leggott and Crabb is working well. They do however need to improve on the conversion stakes. One from seven last week and two from seven this week could be a worry against better Opponents.
This result leaves Portsmouth still in second place on 17 points with Old Emanual still undefeated, on top with 19 points. Next week sees Portsmouth travel to Teddington who beat New Milton 33 – 44 away, taking them into 5th. spot on 14 points. Portsmouth need to address the number of high tackle offences together with the high number of penalties they are conceding but that is not an insurmountable problem. The main fact is that they are enjoying their rugby and scoring plenty of tries. Long may it continue.