Saturday 7th October 2017.
1st Team match report by Jim Dixon.
Teddington 7 – 55 PRFC
Portsmouth travelled to Teddington for their 5th league fixture. Having lost skipper Darren Crabb to a twisted knee injury sustained at Thursday night’s training session they then lost player/coach Matt Farnes who turned his ankle over in a hole in the Teddington pitch whilst running a warming up session. Crabbs’ place was taken by Darren Leggott who was originally selected on the bench with Jack Easterbrook moving from the 2nds. to bench for the 1st’s. Mark Ovens who had been away on work commitments was moved from the bench to the centre with Gareth Richards moving from 12 to No.10. This meant that Portsmouth only had 2 replacements for the match. Fullback Stewart Davies took over the Captaincy in Crabbs’ absence.
Playing down the slope and with a strong wind at their backs Portsmouth were soon on the attack with winger Curtis Barnes just being tackled into touch close to the try line. More pressure saw Portsmouth win good ball and with the backs linking well eventually Mark Ovens crossed for their first try which was converted by fullback Davies 4 minutes into the start giving the away side a 0 – 7 lead. Portsmouth were soon to add to their score line when scrum half Alex Duffus made a good break from a scrum and the ball was passed to Richards who scored under the posts, Davies was again on target with the conversion taking the score to 0 – 14 after 8 minutes. With Portsmouth pressing hard Duffus was able to pick up a loose ball on the 10 metre line and dummy his way to score close to the posts. Again Davies was on target and the score now moved to 0 – 21 after 17 minutes.
Suli Caucau then had a good run before the ball went into touch 10 metres from the Teddington try line. From the Teddington lineout Will Brock managed to charge down a clearance kick which he quickly followed up to touch down wide out for the teams 4th and bonus point try. The conversation was not successful and the score was now 0 – 26 with 20 minutes of the half gone. Teddington then took the ball deep into Portsmouth territory before giving away a penalty. Davies was then able to find good touch back into the Opposition territory From a line out close to the Teddington line the ball was won by Portsmouth and eventually prop Ian French crossed over for a try, not something he is renowned for!. Again the conversion missed and the score now stood at 0 – 31 to Portsmouth on 30 minutes. Portsmouth’s next score came from a catch by Alex Duffus who moved the ball to Barnes who in turn passed to Richards who crossed for his second try under the posts. This was converted by Davies taking the score to 0 – 43 with about 5 minutes of the half remaining. French then came off to be replaced at prop by Jordan Cracknell. Teddington then managed to get into Portsmouth territory but from a kick ahead by the Home side winger Whitehouse managed to out jump his opposite number to take the ball and run clear to score wide out. The conversion missed and the half time whistle went shortly after with the score 0 – 43 to Portsmouth.
Teddington kicked off the second half and soon had Portsmouth pinned deep in their half with the benefit of a strong wind at their backs. No.6 Rhys Bowen then had to come off and was replaced by Jack Easterbrook. A Teddington line out was pilfered by Rob Gicquel which enabled the visitors to clear their line but a missed pass saw a bit of confusion and Teddington were able to gather and score close to the posts, the conversion was successful and the Home side were on the scoreboard at last 7 – 43 with 2 minutes of the second half gone. Portsmouth were being pinned in their half courtesy of some good kicking by the Home side fly half who was enjoying the benefit of the follow wind. Another Portsmouth attack saw the ball go into touch just on the half way line. From the line out Teddington attempted to move the ball across their backs but Portsmouth centre Mark Ovens was quickly up to intercept a pass and race clear to score close to the posts for his second try. The conversion failed and the score now stood at 7 – 48 with 17 minutes of the second half gone. Prop Adam Parks then came off to be replaced by Ian French. Good defensive work by Portsmouth kept their Opponents on the back foot as Teddington used the wind to their advantage with some good kicking. Portsmouth then lost Will Brock to a yellow card for coming in at the side of a ruck. Portsmouth were then able to get deep into the Opposition half with a fine kick by Davies from fullback. Portsmouth however soon found themselves pinned back in their half and only good defensive work kept their line intact. With Brock having served his 10 minutes in the bin Portsmouth rang more changes with Parks coming back into the front row and French going in to the second row. This saw Gicquel move to No.6 and Brock stayed on the touch line. Portsmouth then lost hooker Greg Hoolihan to a yellow card after an altercation with his opposite number who was also carded. With no hooker Fooks had to move into the front row from openside wing forward. Despite Teddington trying to keep Portsmouth pinned in their half the Visitors were able to work their way up field. From a penalty against Teddington Portsmouth were able to move the ball across the backs and and centre Caucau raced away to score under the posts, Davies was on hand to convert and the score was now 7 – 55 with a couple of minutes of the match remaining. The full time whistle went with Portsmouth pushing hard to add to the score line.
After a flurry of first half tries the second half was a bit of a disappointment but playing into a strong wind and with a good kicking No.10 against them it was only to be expected. There were moments when Portsmouth got a bit impatient and perhaps tried a bit too hard to force the game. However there was good defence in the second half that backed up a good attacking intent in the first half. Portsmouth were just too quick and powerful for their Opponents. Even the late replacements seemed to fit in seamlessly to the effect that a neutral observer would not have realised the changes that were made. With still more players to come back into the squad, that will make the Coaches job harder come selection time. It also helps to keep the players on their toes. This win still sees Portsmouth in second place on 22 points just 2 behind Old Emanuel who beat Old Tiffinians 33 – 0. Just behind Portsmouth are Old Cranleighans on 21 points who beat Trojans away 12 – 24. However Portsmouth’s point’s difference is the best in this league at 134 with Cranleighans nearest on 107. Portsmouth have also scored 6 bonus points from 5 matches. It looks as though the top of the league is going to be a close run thing although it is still early days but Portsmouth cannot afford to let complacency creep into their game if they wish to stay in the top two.