Havant 2nd XV vs Portsmouth, Saturday 27th January 2024

Havant 2nd XV vs Portsmouth, Saturday 27th January 2024

With Havant 1st XV away this match was played on the main artificial pitch in front of a vociferous crowd of supporters from both clubs.

From the Portsmouth kick off Havant caught but knocked the ball on giving Portsmouth a scrum around the 22m. line. From that scrum, Havant were then caught offside resulting in a penalty kick to the visitors. With the ball coming off the tee twice Tom Sanderson called for someone to steady the ball but as time was running out the kick was somewhat hurried resulting in a surprise miss. From the restart Portsmouth set up a good attacking move which saw winger Brad Jewer racing down the touch line but as he neared the try line he felt his hamstring go but thought he could still make it but he had to pull up just short. After treatment he had to come off. Harry Drew came on to play 9 with Tom Sanderson going to 15 and Matt Higgins moving from fullback to the wing. With Portsmouth enjoying the greater territory battle they had a penalty kick to touch giving them a 5m, lineout. From that they set up a good catch and drive which resulted in No.8 Aaron Beesley powering over out wide. Again, the conversion was missed but they led 0-5 with about 20 minutes gone.

A penalty against Portsmouth saw Havant kick to touch giving them a 5m lineout. Portsmouth managed to spoil that throw and cleared their lines but an earlier infringement by Portsmouth saw the Ref take them back and the result was another 5m lineout to Havant. This was the first time they had been in the Portsmouth 22 and they made sure to capitalise on it, scoring their first try. This was converted so the lead now changed hands and they led 7-5 with about 25 minutes gone.

Lee Chandler then came off to be replaced at 7 by Ollie Simpson. Havant then set up another attack and their winger side stepped his way to the try line, again the conversion was good and they now led 14-5. With game going end-to-end, Portsmouth had the next score with a penalty converted by Gareth Davies taking the score to 14-8. Half time followed shortly after.

The second half started with Adam Parks-Dare replacing Liam Avis in the front row for Portsmouth. Shortly after the restart, Portsmouth secured possession just outside the Havant 22 and with what turned out to be the try of the match they set up a handling move that seemed to involve the whole team, with the passes being so quick that it was almost impossible to know where they were going next. As they made progress into the Havant 22, the ball eventually found its way to centre Leo Wall and he shot through the defence to score a try under the posts. Davies was on target with the conversion and the score was now 14-15.

More pressure was put on Havant with a great touch kick by Davies giving a 50/22 lineout to Portsmouth. Portsmouth won their ball but an infringement by Havant gave Portsmouth a scrum midway between the 22 and the try line. Portsmouth set up another attack and eventually it was Beesley who set off shrugging would-be tacklers out of his way and he crossed close to the posts. With Davies again on target they now led 14-22 This was extended shortly after by a penalty kick by Davies taking the score to 14-25. Beesley then came off to be replaced by Chandler.

Havant then set up a good attack which resulted in a converted try taking the score to 21-25. Beesley then came back on to replace Liam Glazebrook on the backrow. Another penalty against Havant saw Davies line up a kick outside the 22 and slightly to the side of the posts. The kick was true and the lead extended to 21-28. With about 8 minutes left, Havant set up an attack which resulted in a converted try taking the score to 28-28 and a nail biting finish.

The lead changed again when Portsmouth transgressed, giving Havant a kick at goal which they converted giving them a slender 31-28 lead with about 3 minutes left. Havant were only too keen to keep the ball away from Portsmouth with touch kicks that meant another ball had to be found. Eventually, from one touch kick the final whistle went with a victory to Havant. They got 5 points and Portsmouth 1 loosing bonus point.

This was a typical local derby match with both sides going hammer and tongs at each other for the full 80 minutes. If Portsmouth had been able to turn territory into points in the opening 20 minutes that could have changed the outcome. Portsmouth were able to disrupt the Havant lineout on occasions with good jumping from Simon Pinhorne who also showed up well in open play. Beesley enjoyed himself with some good runs and the backs showed some good, slick passing. The pack performed well throughout and they seemed to feed of the Havant supporters noise. Overall, it was a cracking game of rugby with excitement throughout until the final whistle.

This result sees Portsmouth slip 1 place to 6th, on 37 points. Havant move to 3rd, on 55 points. Next week sees Portsmouth at home to New Milton who lost by the narrowest of margins 31-32 to Andover. New Milton are in 10th place, on 26 points. They may be low down in the league but they have had some very close games against teams placed higher than them. So another trickly game is in prospect. Kick Off changes to 2.30pm next Saturday.