Saturday 3rd November 2018
Match Report by Jim Dixon
Portsmouth 38 – 24 Andover
Andover kicked off this encounter and Portsmouth soon showed their intent with a fine move started by No.8 Will Brock who passed to Sully Caucau who in turn took the ball from the Portsmouth 22 up to the visitors 22 before being tackled. Minutes later, from a Portsmouth line out, they won good ball to set up a catch and drive which saw No.6 Jack Easterbrook go over for their 1st try wide out. Morgans’ kick was unsuccessful but Portsmouth took the lead 5 – 0 with 2 minutes of the match gone. 5 minutes later Portsmouth were again on the score sheet when full back Mark Ovens gathered a ball just in his half and with some great sidesteps and pace he scored wide out. Morgans’ conversion was true and the lead extended to 12 – 0. Andover then began to get some territory but a good pick and go by them came to nothing when their ball carrier lost the ball in contact. From that scrum Portsmouth made good ground through Brock before Andover gave away a penalty allowing Portsmouth a good touch kick.
Portsmouth won clean ball and quickly moved the ball across the backs and eventually winger Tom Hopkins finish off the move with a good run to score wide out. Morgans’ kick missed and the score was now 17 – 0 after 13 minutes. Portsmouth were beginning to get penalised for offside and eventually hooker Hoolihan had to leave the field for 10 minutes. Portsmouth were soon back on the attack but were dealt another blow when prop Finn Parry was also yellow carded reducing the home side to 13. From an Andover scrum the visitors were penalised, and taking a quick tap penalty Portsmouth moved the ball to winger Caucau who crossed for their 4th. bonus point try. Again Morgans’ conversion was true and the score now stood at 24 – 0 as Hoolihan came back on Shortly after Andover again set up a good attacking move from a quickly taken tap penalty and they crossed for their first try making the score 24 – 5 after 28 minutes. The conversion missed. No.8 Brock then had to leave the field with a knock to his arm and Elliot Worrall went on in his place. Parry was now back on so Portsmouth were back to full strength. From a line out Portsmouth were able to set up a good catch and drive which saw skipper Daz Leggott go over for their 5th. try. Again Morgan was on target and the score moved to 31 – 5 with about 5 minutes of the half remaining. Portsmouth were then themselves under pressure and eventually Andover managed to score from a well taken line out. The conversion was successful and the score was now 31 – 12 as the half time whistle went.
Portsmouth got the second half underway and were soon on the attack again. A good move involving Caucau twice, saw Portsmouth miss a scoring chance with the final pass being knocked on. From a penalty against the visitors, Portsmouth set up a line out just inside the Andover 22. A good catch and drive with excellent work from No.7 Tim Snowden, saw Parry credited with a try which was again converted by Morgan taking the score to 38 – 12 on 44 minutes. Will Brock then came back on and Jack Easterbrook came off. From a good set piece, No.8 Worrall picked up and made about 20 metres before moving the ball out wide but again another scoring chance went begging when the final pass went forward. Worrall was again in the action as he drove for the line but was adjudged to have been held up as he crossed the line. Only a last ditch tackle by Andover prevented Portsmouth from adding to their score as Morgan made a blind side break. More trouble loomed for Portsmouth as the game started to have a lot of ‘niggle’ going on which resulted in Hoolihan receiving his second yellow which turned into a red card so the home side were reduced to 14 for the remainder of the match. Shortly after 2nd row Bristow came off to be replaced by Easterbrook. Portsmouth then had their ranks further reduced when Worrall received a yellow card. The game was now starting to get very scrappy and got even worse when Portsmouth had yet another player yellow carded, but as this was Parry’s second that changed to red and Portsmouth found themselves down to 12 players. Lack of numbers then began to tell as Andover took full advantage and scored close to the posts, taking the score to 38 – 19 as the conversion was successful with about 10 minutes of the match remaining. This was followed shortly after with Simon Morgan receiving another yellow card thus reducing Portsmouth to 11 players on the field. This shortage of numbers enabled Andover to score their 4th.bonus point try which was not converted, taking the final score to 38 – 24 as the final whistle went. Credit must go to prop Ian French, who came out of retirement again and stayed on for the duration of the game.
This was a game which should have seen a far bigger margin of victory for Portsmouth but as the second half wore on and decisions seemed to go against the home side, that caused problems which effected to flow of their game. To score 5 tries in the first half and only 1 in the second shows how the loss of players affected the game. However that said, Portsmouth must address the never ending stream of penalties they continue to give away, not just in this game but through out the season so far. Portsmouth gave away 12 penalties in the first half alone and a similar number in the second half which was the main cause of the yellow cards. They were also guilty of a bit of arguing amongst themselves probably caused by some of the decisions going against them. This win sees Portsmouth move into second place on 33 points, just 6 behind Winchester who beat Old Whitgiftians away 35 – 42. Battersea Ironsides are in 3rd on 33 points with U.S. in 4th. also on 33 points. It is just points difference that is keeping Portsmouth where they are.
Next week sees a rest from league rugby and a return to the Intermediate Cup. Portsmouth are at home to Bromley who play in London South East 3 and are currently lying in 8th. place after beating Hastings & Bexhill 27 – 21.
French, Hoolihan, Parry.
Easterbrook, Snowden, Brock.
Caucau, Chandler, Gates, Hopkins.
Bingham, Worrall, Whitehouse.