Saturday 16th December 2017
London South West 3
Match Report by Jim Dixon
Basingstoke 7 – 70 Portsmouth
Portsmouth travelled to Basingstoke for this first fixture of the second half of the season, the majority of the squad looking rather resplendent in their new club blazers. Complacency was the watchword the Coaches had instilled in the players prior to this fixture. In the end a 12 try to 1 victory showed that the squad had taken the Coaches concerns to heart. There were just two changes to last week’s team with both Will Brock and Gareth Fitzgerald unavailable. Their places were taken by Jack Easterbrook, who gave a man of the match performance in the 2nd.last week and Rhys Bowen who missed last week due to a calf injury. Dan Gates also made a welcome return after a lengthy absence through injury.
There was a 1 minute silence held for Basingstoke stalwart Joyce Beenham who died recently. Joyce had been the main raffle ticket seller over many years and has raised thousands of pounds through her efforts.
Basingstoke kicked off and Portsmouth showed their intent by taking the ball back into the Opposition half with some good driving work by the forwards. However, it was Basingstoke who got on the score board first when Portsmouth lost control of the ball and the Basingstoke fly half quickly gathered and raced through for a try under the posts with just 4 minutes of the match on the clock. The try was converted and so they took a 7 – 0 lead. From the re-start, Portsmouth were soon back on the attack and a good move involving several pairs of hands eventually saw winger Suli Caucau race through for a try wide out. The conversion failed but the gap was closed to 7 – 5 with 7 minutes gone. Two minutes later Portsmouth were again on the score board when from the re-start Portsmouth moved the ball out to winger Curtis Barnes who took the ball on the half way line and raced through a couple of tackles to score under the posts. The conversion was secured and Portsmouth took the lead 7 – 12. The re-start by Basingstoke went into touch giving Portsmouth a line out on their ’22’. Good possession by the Visitors saw them move the ball upfield and eventually prop Ryan Wilkie crossed for a try, the conversion was successful and thus their lead increased to 7 – 19. After 14 minutes. The restart saw Basingstoke kick directly into touch, giving Portsmouth a scrum on the half way line. With the pack in complete control they were able to move the ball to Curtis Barnes who then brought the ball back to the opposite wing before giving centre Luke Simmons a pacey run in to score wide out. The conversion missed but the lead increased to 7 – 24 on 20 minutes. Basingstoke then had a period of possession in the Portsmouth half until, they had a pass intercepted by Barnes but eventually Portsmouth were penalised which resulted in a yellow card for hooker Greg Hoolihan. Basingstoke’s woes continued when in opting to take a quick tap penalty their prop knocked the ball on. Portsmouth were then able to work their way back to the halfway line and after the ball had gone through several hands it was eventually Barnes who completed the move with a good run in for a well taken try. The conversion failed but the score moved to 7 – 29 with about 30 minutes gone and Portsmouth still down to 14 players. Basingstoke then had a period of play in the Portsmouth half but were unable to make any real inroads due to good defensive work by the visitors. Hoolihan was now back on and Portsmouth were back to a full compliment. A scrum to Basingstoke saw the Portsmouth pack drive them off the ball and a good run from No. 7 Fooks saw them take play deep into the Opposition half. Eventually the half time whistle went with Portsmouth in a commanding lead 7 – 29.
Luke Richardson came on for second row Jordan Cracknell who had tweaked a hamstring and the second half got underway. Shortly after Lee Chandler had to come off after getting accidentally being caught in the face by one of his own players. His place was taken by Dan Gates in the centre making his first appearance since the beginning of the season. A line out to Portsmouth in the Basingstoke ’22’ saw a good drive by the Portsmouth pack and prop Wilkie cross for his second try. The kick missed and the score was now 7 – 34 after 6 minutes of the re-start. Shortly after prop Jackson Clark had to leave the field with a bang to his knee and he was replaced by Ian French. From a scrum to Basingstoke on the ’22’ Portsmouth were able to drive them off the ball and scrum half Alex Duffus raced through to score close to the posts. This was converted and the gap was now 7 – 41 to the visitors with just 12 minutes of the second half gone. 3 minutes later Portsmouth were again on the score board when following a good backs move Simmons then raced through for his second try. The kick missed but the score was now 7 – 46. Portsmouth were again on the scoreboard with a move that started in their ’22’ and ended with Fooks running in from the Basingstoke ’22’ for their 9th. try. This was converted taking the score to 7 – 53. Scrum half Duffus then had to come off with a leg injury and as there were no more replacements available Portsmouth had to play the remaining 20 minutes with 14 players. That meant full back Davies moving to the scrum half berth and Barnes covering wing and the vacant full back position. Portsmouth were still pressing and only a knock on prevented them from adding to the score but they had lost a bit of shape with Duffus off the field. He is instrumental in organising so much of the attacking options. As Basingstoke fought their way back into the Portsmouth ’22’ it was a good covering tackle from Barnes that saw his winger forced into touch thus preventing a possible try. From a line out on the half way line Portsmouth were able to take play deep into Basingstoke territory and eventually centre Gareth Richards raced through to score. This was converted thus taking the score to 7 – 60 with about 3 minutes of the match remaining. From the re-start Daz Leggott made good ground before passing to Wilkie who then passed to Barnes who scored his 3rd. try wide out. The kick was just short and with about 1 minute left the score was now 7 – 65. Portsmouth were not finished yet and another sweeping move from one end of the pitch to the other just failed to produce a score with the final pass being knocked on. With just seconds to go Portsmouth then won good ball from a scrum and from a kick ahead Barnes won the race for the touchdown and his 4th. try. The conversion missed and the final whistle went with Portsmouth winning 7 – 70.
Considering that Portsmouth played a total of 30 minutes with 14 players this was a good result and it was pleasing to see them keeping on till the final whistle. With a 3.00 pm kick off and playing under flood lights it was a bit tricky to adapt at the start but they soon settled into a good rhythm and to score 12 tries must be good in anyone’s book. Next week Portsmouth were due to host Millbrook at Rugby Camp in the semi-final of the Hampshire Bowl but unfortunately Millbrook have had to concede the fixture due to a spate of injuries. At least this gives those players carrying knocks a good break to fully recover. Portsmouth will now play Trojans twice in the next two months, a league fixture on the 6th January and in the Bowl Final at Rugby Camp on Saturday 10th. February. That promises to be a closely fought match with Trojans lying in 4 place in the league just 3 points behind Portsmouth. Let’s hope a good crowd is there to urge them on. However another date for your diary is Saturday 20th. January, when Portsmouth host Ratchet in the 3rd. round of the R.F.U.Junior vase. Datchet currently play in London N.W.3 and are currently lying in 11th.position.
Saturday’s result still leaves Portsmouth in 3rd.place on 48 points, just 7 points behind Old Cranleighans. Trojans move into 4th.place having beaten New Milton 38 – 19 and are on 45 points. They have also scored 13 bonus which is the best in the League. Portsmouth are on 12 bonus points, having missed out in the win against Battersea Ironsides
Portsmouth’s next fixture in Saturday 6th. January versus Trojans at Rugby Camp and that promises to be a closely fought encounter so let’s hope for a good crowd to spur them on.
Finally may I wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
Clark, Hoolihan, Wilkie.
Bowen, Easterbrook, Fooks.
Caucau, Chandler, Simmons, Barnes.
French, Richardson, Gates.
Other Portsmouth Results:
2nds vs Winchester, HWO
3rds vs Tottonians 3, Won 27-12
Vets vs Sandown and Shanklin, Won 25-22