Saturday 17th November 2018
London 3 South West
Match Report by Jim Dixon
Old Georgians 20 – 28 Portsmouth
This was the first encounter for Portsmouth as they travelled away to Eshers’ ground for this away fixture. Old Georgians are Old Boys of St.Georges College, Weybridge, and were formed in 2011. Although one of the youngest clubs Portsmouth have played they knew it would be a hard battle as O.G’s have won successive promotion every year for the past 4 years.
They play their home games on the Collage ground but are not allowed to use the facilities once the clocks change to winter time so have to arrange venues with local clubs, hence the trip to Esher and a game on their 1st.XV pitch. A very splendid setting!
OG’s got proceedings underway and with Brock fielding the ball he set off upfield with Parry taking over with a good run into the Opposition 22. A penalty against the home side saw Portsmouth kick to touch for a 5 metre lineout. This they duly won and with good work from Tim Snowden the ball was slipped to Louis Bristow who went over for the first score of the match with 5 minutes of the game over. Chris Morgan’s conversion hit the outside post so the score stood at 0 – 5. From the re-start Portsmouth went on the attack again but as the ball was moved across the backs a loose pass saw O. G’s take the ball deep into the Portsmouth 22 and from there they scored a try through their centre. The conversion was true and they re-took the lead 7 – 5 with 8 minutes gone. Portsmouth were having some success with stealing O. G’s lineout ball and they kept up pressure on their hosts with scrum half Morgan also giving a good display. With the game swinging end to end Portsmouth were eventually awarded a penalty for a high tackle in front of the posts just outside the 22 metre line. Morgans kick was true and Portsmouth re-took the lead 8 – 7 with 20 minutes gone. Another lineout to O. G’s just 5 metres from the visitor’s line was again disrupted by Snowden and Portsmouth managed to clear their lines with a good touch kick. Shortly after Portsmouth again got deep into O. G’s territory when from a scrum in their 22 they won good ball and strong carries from Finn Parry, Adam Parks and Daz Leggott saw them camped in the opposition 22 area. However another good backs move came to nothing when another loose pass was gathered by O. G’s and they took play right back into the Portsmouth 22 and eventually they scored their second try through their backs close to the posts. |The conversion was true and they re-took the lead 14 – 8 with about 5 minutes of the half remaining. Daz Leggott then came off to be replaced by Jack Easterbrook with Bristow also having to come off with an achilles tendon problem which gave Jasper Pickersgill his debut appearance in the back row. Elliot Worrall moved from No.8 to the 2nd row with Pickersgill taking to No.8 slot. Two late penalties against Portsmouth saw O. G’s further increase their lead to 20 – 8 before Portsmouth scored their second try through Mark Ovens after excellent work by forwards and backs who combined well with the fullback finishing of a good move wide out. The conversion was unsuccessful but the gap closed to 20 – 13 as the half time whistle went.
Portsmouth started the second half much in the way of the first half with some aggressive play taking the ball into the opposition half. Lee Chandler then had to leave the field with a back problem and he was replaced by Tom Whitehouse. Luke Peters moved from the wing to the centre with Whitehouse taking his spot. Pressure eventually told with O. G’s giving away a penalty which Morgan duly converted taking the score to 20 – 16 with 43 minutes gone. From another lineout steal, this time by Worrall, Portsmouth moved the ball to Pickersgill who made good ground before passing to Parry who finished the move with a good try. This was converted by Morgan and Portsmouth were now in the lead 20 – 23 with about 20 minutes left on the clock. That was Portsmouth’s 3rd try and they were determined to get that all important bonus point. More pressure from Portsmouth saw them keep well in the opposition half with the forwards getting good control. O. G’s were still determined to play their part and their talented backs were trying to break out but the Portsmouth defence held firm but eventually the visitors lost No.10 Farnes for a no arms tackle and a yellow card with about 12 minutes left. Portsmouth seemed to be spurred on by that loss and kept up the attacks. Daz Leggott then came back on to replace Easterbrook. Leggott had already played a full game for the Army on Friday and was still feeling the effects of that encounter. O. G’s had the opportunity to level the scores when Portsmouth were penalised but the kick from just outside the 22 went wide so the score stayed 20 – 23. From an O. G’s attack into the Portsmouth 22 pressure from the visitors backs caused O. G’s to lose control of the ball and a gook hack upfield by Luke Peters saw play taken deep in to the home side’s 22. Portsmouth then had a chance to further increase their lead with a penalty but the kick went wide. Another good run by prop Parry saw him cross the line wide out but as he reached out he lost control of the ball. Farnes then came back on. Portsmouth were then awarded a penalty in front of the posts but they elected for a touch kick in an attempt to gain that important bonus point score. The ensuing line out came to nothing but another penalty against O.G’s saw another kick to touch for a 5 metre lineout to the visitors with only a minute or so remaining. A good catch and drive saw them drive to the line with Will Brock scoring that bonus point try. Again the conversion missed but the score was now 20 – 28 as the final whistle went giving Portsmouth a vital 5 point win.
This was a much improved performance from the last 2 weeks and although penalties were given away, they were only in the low double figures. Parry showed some great ball carrying as did Parks, although he perhaps would be a bit more effective if he took a lower body position into contact. Brock also stood out well. In the backs Ovens again showed up well as did Gates. Tom Hopkins also had some good runs but he needs to have more confidence in his speed. As always skipper Daz Leggott led the team well and got the response he wanted. Pickersgill also caused problems for the opposition whenever he took the ball into contact. At last there were more positives than negatives to be taken from this match, especially after the last couple of performances. This was always going to be a hard fought match with O.G’s having a good pack and some talented backs but Portsmouth held firm with some good defensive work.
This win sees Portsmouth stay in 2nd place on 38 points, just 6 points behind the unbeaten leaders Winchester who beat Teddington in a high scoring match 43 – 31. U.S. Portsmouth are 3rd also on 38 points having beaten Andover away 31 – 38, Battersea Ironsides are 4th. on 36 points having drawn 31 – 31 against Warlingham.
Next week sees a rest from rugby for the 1’s so it gives time for some of those niggles to get better. Next week also sees Portsmouth Vets take on Havant Mariners in the Vets Cup Final at Rugby Camp. K.O. will be 1.00 p.m. so that players and spectators alike can watch England v Australia in the Clubhouse after the match. Portsmouth’s next fixture is at home to Battersea Ironsides on Saturday 1st. December which promises to be a hard fought match.
PARKS, BINGHAM, PARRY.
BROCK, SNOWDEN, WORRALL.
PETERS, CHANDLER, GATES, HOPKINS.
EASTERBROOK, PICKERSGILL, WHITEHOUSE.