Jim Dixon writes…
Portsmouth travelled to Andover for the opening League match of the new season and their first competitive match for nearly two years with a comparatively new team. Three players were also making their 1st XV debut appearance. Matt Hyde, prop. Scott Weatherhead, winger and Dan Perry, flanker.
Portsmouth found themselves playing uphill and into a stiff breeze and were soon under pressure from the Andover pack. Good defence held them out however and they
gradually managed to work their way into the home side’s half. Following a good move which was finished off by Connor Chalton on the wing Portsmouth were first on the score board with a try although Lee Chandler couldn’t add the extra 2 points giving them a 0 – 5 lead after about 7 minutes. Andover soon hit back and scored a try through their prop who ran in under the posts following some poor defence by Portsmouth. The score was converted, and they took the lead
7 -5 on 10 minutes. The game then swung from end to end with Portsmouth squandering a couple of scoring chances through poor passing. After a period of pressure from Andover they increased their lead with a try from their No.8 which they converted, giving them a 14 – 5 lead with about 33 minutes gone. Prop Rhys Bowen then came off, to be replaced by Jordan Cracknell and the half time whistle went with Andover leading 14 – 5.
The second half started with Darren Crabb making way for Darren Leggott in the second row for Portsmouth. Portsmouth were able to close the gap to 14 – 8 after being awarded a penalty which Lee Chandler converted on 42 minutes. Playing down the slope and with a following wind Portsmouth were able to string some good moves together and flanker Anthony Fooks score a good try which was not converted, the score was now 14 – 13. A penalty to Andover saw them increase their lead to 17 – 13. Shortly after Chandler had to leave the field with an injury. Sam Ollie replaced him. More pressure from Portsmouth saw them score their third try which was converted by Tom Harrison giving them back the lead 17 – 20 with about 10 minutes remaining. Andover soon hit back with a converted try when they managed to work an overlap to score near the posts giving them back the lead 24 – 20. Tom Harrison then had to leave the field after a good run by him saw him tap tackled and he hit the hard ground with his knees. Rhys Bowen then came back on. More pressure from Portsmouth saw them retake the lead after a good move was finished by flanker Dan Perry scoring in the corner. This was their fourth bonus point try, which was converted, with an excellent kick from the touch line by Tom Hopkins, making the score 24 – 27. with about 2 minutes remaining. Andover then managed to work another overlap to score their fourth try which was converted giving the lead back at 31 – 27 and the final whistle went.
A very disappointing result for Portsmouth although this has never been a happy hunting ground for Portsmouth, who had some opportunities but were not able to turn them into points. Next week sees Portsmouth return to Rugby Camp for a fixture with Trojans. Trojans had a good win against Old Georgians 31– 8 which puts them in 3rd place. Portsmouth are in 8th.place. Warlingham top the table with a 41 – 8 win against Old Emanuel.