Saturday 9th December 2017
London South West 3
Match Report by Jim Dixon
PRFC 17– 14 Battersea Ironsides
Portsmouth welcomed Battersea Ironsides to Rugby Camp for this, their first ever encounter. Battersea came with the best defensive record in the league and with an identical playing record to date so they knew that they were in for a hard match.
Portsmouth kicked off and were soon pressing Battersea into defending in their half. For the first 10 minutes or so Battersea were unable to get out of their half but were also showing why they had the best defensive record with some good tackling which prevented Portsmouth from playing their usual running game. Gradually Battersea were able to make inroads into the Portsmouth half and for a while the game was then played between the two 22 metre lines. From a home side scrum the Battersea scrum half was yellow carded for slapping the ball down as the Portsmouth scrum half passed the ball back. From the penalty Portsmouth found a good touch but were penalised for a crooked throw resulting in a scrum to Battersea. The Portsmouth pack were able to push the Visitors off the ball and as scrum half Duffus passed the ball out, the Battersea replacement No.9 was also carded for the same offence meaning that Battersea were reduced to 13 players. Only good defensive work from the Visitors pack denied Portsmouth the attacking opportunities they were seeking but eventually from a scrum Portsmouth were able to move the ball into the Battersea half through No.10 Gareth Richards who made good ground before being tackled. As he laid the ball back No.9 Duffus followed up with a great pickup and ran in from just outside the 22 metre line to score close to the posts. Chandlers conversion was successful and Portsmouth held a 7 – 0 lead after 26 minutes. Portsmouth then lost winger Tom Whitehouse to a yellow card as he tried to intercept a pass but was adjudged to have knocked it forward. With the game swinging from end to end the Portsmouth pack were getting much the better of the set piece and from a penalty, Portsmouth were able to work the ball through several pairs of hand for the move to be finished off by full back Davies with a try wide out. The conversion just fell short but Portsmouth had increased their lead to 12 – 0 with 36 minutes gone. Battersea then took the ball deep into the Portsmouth half and from a line out set up a good catch and drive to cross for their first score. The conversion was on target and the score was now 12 – 7 to the home side with only a few minutes of the half remaining. Portsmouth then lost No.6 Fitzpatrick to a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. With Whitehouse already back on the home side were reduced to 14 players for the second time.
Battersea kicked off the second half and soon had Portsmouth defending their line as they drove the ball into the 22 metre area. Their main line of attack was through their driving maul and 7 minutes into the restart, from a series of pick and drives they managed to level the score with a try between the touch line and posts. The conversion was successful which saw them take the lead 12 – 14. Portsmouth were then forced to defend for a period as Battersea pressed to increase their lead but good defence by the home side saw them keep their line intact. Fitzpatrick was then back on so Portsmouth were back to full strength. Suli Caucau then came on to replace Whitehouse on the wing. An attempted drop goal by the visitors came to nothing and resulted in a drop out to Portsmouth. With Battersea still pressing they had a penalty kick at goal but the attempt fell short and Portsmouth were able to clear their lines. After more pressure from Battersea, Portsmouth, through a good run by Caucau, were able to take the ball deep into the visitors half and Battersea had a player yellow carded for collapsing a maul. From the resulting scrum Portsmouth were able to drive their opponents back towards the try line and eventually No.8 Brock was able to pick up the
ball and cross for a try thus restoring their lead. The conversion just shaved the outside of the post but the home side had re-taken the lead 17 -14 with 26 minutes of the second half gone. Jordan Cracknell then came off to be replaced by Ian French in the second row. The Portsmouth pack were now going well and from a Battersea scrum, they were able to drive them off the ball and take the ball into the Battersea ’22’. However good defence from Battersea kept their line intact and with a couple of Portsmouth line outs going astray they were unable to add to the score. A good powerful run from 2nd.row Daz Leggott saw the home side again set up a good attacking move but equally good defence from Battersea saw the attack thwarted. As Portsmouth pressed for that all important 4th.try they were finally beaten by the referees’ whistle signalling the end of the game and Portsmouth were able to maintain their unbeaten home run this season with a 17 – 14 victory.
This was always going to be a closely fought match and that was exactly what it was with Battersea denying Portsmouth opportunities to get their backs going. This is the first time this season that Portsmouth have been denied a bonus point 4th.try, testament to the visitors defence. Battersea also played a more forward orientated game with their pick and drives but Portsmouth were able to match that, especially in the set piece where they were dominant. It was good to see winger Luke Peters back in his first outing this season for the 1st’s. With a few more players back in the mix for next week there will be some selection headaches for the Coaches but that only means that training will be that much more important to help the Coaches in selection. This win leaves Portsmouth still in 3rd.place on 43 points, 3 points ahead of Trojans in 4th.
Next week sees Portsmouth visit near neighbours Basingstoke for their last league fixture before Christmas. Although Basingstoke are bottom of the league and without a win, let’s hope that complacency is not allowed to creep into the game. They had a narrow 25 – 19 loss away to Warlingham on Saturday.
On Saturday 23rd.December, Portsmouth are playing Millbrook at Rugby Camp, in the semi-final of the Hampshire Cup. 2.00pm kick off. The Club are hoping to organise a pre-match Christmas lunch so please watch the website for details. Millbrook play in Hampshire One, one level below Portsmouth and are currently lying in 3rd.place having beaten Fareham Heathens 35 – 24 so it promises to be an exciting game. Let’s hope there is a good crowd in attendance to set everyone up for a great Christmas!
Clark, Hoolihan, Wilkie.
Fitzpatrick, brook, Fooks.
Whitehouse, Chandler, Simmons,
French, Nichols, Caucau.
Link to Other League results
Saturday 9th December 2017