Jim Dixon writes…
On a bitterly cold and windy day Portsmouth travelled to Basingstoke with yet again a much changed side from recent weeks.
Portsmouth had the wind at their backs in the first half but were soon defending as Basingstoke took the game to them despite playing into the elements. They were soon on the score board from a good attacking move resulting in a try close to the touch line, although there looked like a knock-on but the Referee let play go on. The kick missed and the score was 5 – 0 after a few minutes. From the restart Basingstoke were again on the Portsmouth try line but a penalty against them enabled Portsmouth to clear their line giving Basingstoke a line out on their 22 . Winning good line out ball they were soon able to set up another attack and crossed out wide. Again the converson missed and they now led by 12 – 0.after 15 minutes. From the restart Portsmouth were penalised for being in front of the kicker, a basic mistake. However they soon made up for that error when captain Mark Ovens set up a good move, passing to Jashan Solanki in the centre who sidestepped his way through to score under the posts. The kick missed and the score was now 12 – 5 on 20 minutes. From the restart Portsmouth kicked deep forcing Basingstoke to kick to touch giving the visitors a line out on the home side’s 22. Winning good ball Solanki kicked ahead towards the try line but they were just beaten to the touch down by a Basingstoke player. Following more pressure from Portsmouth they were able add their second try courtesy of Anthony Fooks. The kick was converted by Tom Hare and the score was 12 – 12 with just a couple of minutes of the half remaining and eventually the whistle went.
The second half started with Portsmouth giving away a rather silly penalty by being in front of the kicker and their kick took play up to the Portsmouth 22. Good defence by the visitors kept them at bay despite Portsmouth playing into the wind. Basingstoke were putting huge pressure on Portsmouth but still they managed to hold them out. Dan Gates managed to rip the ball from his opposite munber and a kick upfield gave Basingstoke a line out but Portsmouth managed to steal the ball but the kick from the scrum half was charged down. Eventually Basingstoke managed to get into the Portsmouth 22 and they crossed for their 3rd try giving them a 17 – 12 lead.after 58 minutes. Portsmouth then set up an attack of their own and a good move across the backs looked promising but the final pass couldn’t be held by the winger. Basingstoke were soon camped back near to the Portsmouth line and the forwards set up a good driving maul to score their 4th.bonus point try. The conversion saw them now lead 24 – 12. Portsmouth were not put off by this setback and soon set up a driving maul from a good lineout from which Finn Parry scored their 3rd try. taking the score to 24 – 17. More defending by Portsmouth saw them keep Basingstoke out but eventually the pressure told and they crossed for their 5th. score which was converted taking their lead to 31 – 17. From the restart Portsmouth were then penalised for holding on after the tackle and from the touch kick the final whistle went giving Basingstoke their first win this season.
This was a bitter pill for Portsmouth to swallow but on balance Basingstoke deserved their win. They were well led in the forwards by Simon Appleby, a former County player who may be getting on in years but has a lot of experience which he was able to put to good use today. Portsmouth kept battling away but too many basic mistakes certainly didn’t help their cause. All to often the final pass couldn’t be held or they left the receiving winger with no room to move as they ran across the pitch. Scrum half Harry Drew showed promise but he must quicken his decisions as his kicking out of hand got charged down on a couple of occasions. Tom Hare at full; back also had a good debut and Ollie Simpson at No.8 made some good runs but needs to get a bit fitter.
Next week sees Portsmouth at home to Old Emanual who beat old
Georgians 22-16. Old Emanual are in 8th. place on 33 points. Portsmouth remain in 10th. place.