Eastleigh vs Portsmouth, Saturday 13th January 2024

Eastleigh vs Portsmouth, Saturday 13th January 2024

Portsmouth travelled the short distance to Eastleigh in this League encounter. Portsmouth were 5th.and Eastleigh 7th. before this game but Eastleigh have had a bit of a resurgence recently so this was always going to be a hard fought match and so it proved.
Portsmouth kicked off and straight away kept Eastleigh pinned in their 22. Portsmouth had plenty of possession but with Eastleigh defending well they were unable to cross to try line despite several attempts. Eventually Eastleigh got the chance to clear their lines with a good touch kick which took play into the Portsmouth half for the first time in the opening 10 – 15 minutes. A 5 metre lineout to Eastleigh saw them set up a catch and drive and they drove over the line for the first try of the match. The conversion missed and they led by 5 — 0.

Portsmouth soon hit back and when Eastleigh were penalised for playing the scrum half before he had the ball, Portsmouth were awarded a penalty just to the side of the posts and Ton Sanderson duly converted, closing the gap to 5-3.

Portsmouth then lost prop Liam Avis to a yellow card for allegedly collapsing the scrum. From the ensuing scrum Eastleigh moved the ball to their backs and their centre cut through to score close to the posts, the kick missed and the score was now 10- 3 with about 25 minutes gone. Eastleigh were able to add to their score with a converted try taking the lead to 17 – 3. Portsmouth then got penalised for not rolling away after the tackle and Eastleigh add 3 more points to their score making it 20 – 3.

Eastleigh then had 2 players yellow carded for separate penalties. Portsmouth took advantage of this with a scrum close to the try line which saw Simo9n Pinhorne break away to score out wide. The conversion looked to have gone over but the Eastleigh touch judge didn’t raise his flag and the Ref signalled no conversion. The score was now 20 – 8 and the half time whistle went.

The second half got underway with Portsmouth making changes with Connor Charlton coming off to be replaced by Brad Jewer and Dan Spencer replacing Liam Glazebrook on the back row. Portsmouth came so close to scoring when Brad Jewer made a good run down the wing and managed a clever kick ahead which bounced towards the try line. As Jewer raced through he was challenged by his opposite number and as he dived at the ball to score he just knocked it on as he touched it down. Portsmouth had another scoring chance denied them, this time by the Ref. as Pinhorne crossed to touch down only to be called back by the ref for an earlier infringement. A series of penalties against Eastleigh eventually saw Fooks score from close range and with Sanderson adding the extras the score was now 20-15.

Liam Avis came off to be replaced by Adam Parks-Dare and Aaron Beesley then came off to be replaced by Liam Glazebrook at No.8. With the game swinging between the 22’s it was Eastleigh who broke the stalemate when they were awarded a penalty after Portsmouth had been penalised for being offside. Their kick was successful and the lead was now 23 – 15. Portsmouth then lost centre Dan Gates to a nastly cut to his head and he was replaced by Leo Wall who had come off earlier. Eastleigh then added a further converted try to extend their lead to 30 – 15. That was their 4th.bonus point try. Portsmouth had been under pressure for a period when from an attack by them inside the Portsmouth 22, Gareth Davies anticipated a pass and took a great intercept to race away followed by Tom Sanderson. As the opposition closed on Davies he managed to get the ball away to Sanderson who was up in support and he reced clear. As he got close to the Eastleigh 22 he stumbled but somehow managed to stay upright enough to recover and speed away to score close to the posts, He was also able to convert his own try taking the score to 30 – 22. The final whistle went shortly after as Portsmouth were desperately trying to add another score.

Possibly if Portsmouth had managed to score in the opening session when they had Eastleigh pinned in their 22 that might have changes things a bit. Portsmouth did lose the French Ref for a period but in the closing stages of the match he seemed to come back in our favour. Eastleigh defended well throughout the game and they were particularly dangerous when the got inside our 22. The Portsmouth lineout didn’t function well today for some reason. In their defence they were short of Sam Foster, severed tendon in has thumb and likely to miss most of the remaining games .He is due an operation on Tuesday. Bryn Rainford was also unavailable as he disloceted a finger at Tuesday’s training session. Elliott Worrall was also still having problems with an injury from a previous game. Stewart Davies and Josh Howell-Williams were also unavailable due to work commitments. That is not to detract from the efforts of the replacements as they all performed well.

After the match and back in the Clubhouse Eastleigh awarded Man of the Match to No8 Aaron Beesley for his aggresive runs and general play. Portsmouth nominated the Eastleigh Centre as their Man of the Match. He certainly controlled their back line very well.

This result still leaves Portsmouth in 5th. place on 36 points, Eastleigh have moved up to 6th on 31 points. Next weeks’ opponents are Andover who had a HWO against Alton. They are still in 2nd place on 59 points so that is going to be another hard fixture. Petersfield are still top on 68 points after beating New Milton 24 – 57.