Saturday 25th November 2017
London South West 3
Match Report by Jim Dixon
Old Cranleighans 38– 29 PRFC
Another first for Portsmouth as they travelled to Thames Ditton for this first ever fixture against Old Cranleighans. With Rob Gicquel a late withdrawal his place was taken by Luke Richardson making his first 1st XV start of the season. He had originally been selected on the bench. Curtis Barnes was also unavailable so Luke Simmons kept his place from last week. Suli Caucau was also on the bench having recovered from his H.I.A . Skipper Stewart Davies moved from fullback to centre with player/coach Matt Farnes taking the fullback slot.
Portsmouth kicked off and were soon under pressure as O. C’s took the game deep into the Portsmouth 22. From a line out O. C’s drove over the line but excellent work by Prop Ian French who had got under the ball, prevented a score. However they continued to press their advantage and eventually from a scrum 5 metres out, their scrum half crossed for the first score of the day. The conversion was successful and they took a deserved 7 – 0 with 8 minutes on the clock. The Portsmouth pack had been very quiet up till then and it was hoped that this would soon be corrected. From the kick off Portsmouth were able to get into the O. C’s half for the first time and looked a bit sharper as a result. A good passing movement took them right up to the Opposition line but the final pass just went astray and O. C’s were able to clear their line. From the resultant line out Portsmouth put a good movement together which resulted in skipper Davies crossing for their first try. The conversion missed but they had closed the gap to 7 – 5 with 13 minutes gone. Portsmouth were now playing with a bit more passion and from a 5 metre scrum Duffus took the ball to the left and then stepped back to the right before passing to Farnes who crossed for their second try. This was converted by Chandler and they now took the lead 7 – 12 on 23 minutes. The Portsmouth pack were now getting into their stride and were being quite dominant at the set piece. More Portsmouth pressure saw them force O. C’s into kicking for touch, giving Portsmouth a line out deep into the O. C’s 22. From the line out they set up a catch and drive which saw No. 7 Fooks cross for a try to extend the Portsmouth lead to 7 – 17 as the conversion missed. Prop Ian French then came off to be replaced by Jackson Clark with about 10 minutes of the half remaining. O.C’s then began to up their game and that saw Portsmouth defending well but they were forced to touch the ball down over their line thus giving O. C’s a 5 metre scrum. Winning good ball from the scrum they were able to move the ball across the field and eventually scored wide out. The conversion was successful and the score was now 14 – 17 with just a couple of minutes of the half remaining. The final whistle went with Portsmouth marking a kick ahead and clearing into touch.
The second half started much as the first had done with O. C’s deep in the Portsmouth half and eventually they scored out wide thus re-taking the lead. The conversion was successful and the score was now 21 – 17 with a couple of minutes of the second half gone. With both teams putting in some big hits it was the Home side that scored again from a penalty which saw second row Daz Leggott yellow carded taking the score to 24 – 17 with 8 minutes of the second half gone. Rhys Bowen then came off to be replaced by Ian French. French went into the second row with Richardson going to No.8. O.C’s were now getting into their stride and from the kick off were able to win the ball and scored under the posts. This was converted and the score was now 31 – 17. Portsmouth then made another change with Suli Caucau coming on in place of Lee Chandler. Matt Farnes then moved from full back to No.10, with Davies going back to No.15 and Caucau going into the centre. For the next 10 minutes or so the game was largely played between the 22’s with both teams trying to gain the upper hand. Portsmouth then lost hooker Hoolihan to a yellow card and reducing them to 13 players. Bowen then came back on and Richardson came off with Fooks moving to hooker. A good interception by Caucau saw him take the ball deep into the O. C’s half and followed by a kick ahead from Davies they forced a line out 10 metres from the Opposition try line. With Leggott now back on Portsmouth were now back to 14. Portsmouth, through some dogged persistence eventually managed to score their 4th. bonus point try though Alex Duffus. The conversion was successful and the gap closed to 31- 24 in favour of the Hosts with the second half 20 minutes old. 8 minutes later O.C’s were able to further extend their lead with a try from a good attacking move. The conversion was successful and their lead extended to 38 -24 on 28 minutes. Luke Richardson then came back on in place of the carded Hoolihan and Chandler also came on to replace Davies. This saw Farnes move back to No.15 and Chandler going back to No.!0. and Portsmouth were now back to full strength. From the re-start the kick went directly into touch giving O.C’s a scrum on the half way line. Portsmouth then put in a great drive and managed to push the Opposition off the ball. The ball was moved across the backs and eventually winger Tom Whitehouse crossed for a try wide out. The conversion missed and the score now stood at 38 – 29 with 28 minutes gone. The remaining 12 minutes saw both teams trying to add the their score and with some big defensive efforts from both sides neither side was able to gain any real advantage as the final whistle went.
O.C’s were very aggressive in attack and too many missed first up tackles by Portsmouth cost them both tries and territory. It was a very entertaining match and once Portsmouth had got into their stride they gave a really good account of themselves and yet again scored a bonus point. In fact they have scored bonus points for 4 tries in every game played so far this season. 5 tries apiece shows how close the sides were with the big difference being in the place kicking. O.C’s managed to convert all of their tries plus 1 penalty whereas Portsmouth only managed 2 from 5. It was good to see both Richardson and Clark back on the pitch after such long absences and will bode well for the remainder of the season. There was a big defensive commitment from both sides and no doubt there will be some sore bodies on Sunday. Despite this loss Portsmouth still retain 3rd.place on 39 points but are now 7 points off second placed Old Cranleighans on 46 points. Old Emanual remain top on 49 points and are still undefeated. Trojans in 4th place, are just one point behind Portsmouth and Battersea Ironsides are in 5thposition on 36 points. Portsmouths point’s difference is the second best in the league on 241 against O.C’s on 296.
There is no fixture for the 1st XV next week and the Coaches are looking for a couple of good coaching sessions to make up for the lack of game time. Their next match is on Saturday 9th December, at home to Battersea Ironsides who beat New Milton 46 – 3 so that promises to be a close fought encounter but one that Portsmouth will no doubt be targeting to close the gap on the teams above them.
French, Hoolihan, Wilkie,
Bowen, Fooks, Brock.
Whitehouse, Richards, Davies (C).Simmons.
Clark, Parry, Caucau