Portsmouth travelled to Thames Ditton in this penultimate league fixture. On a brighter moment this was also centre Dan Gates 250th.League/Cup match appearance and he has been a vital member of the 1’s for many seasons.
Old Cranleighan got the match underway and after a bit of a tentative start it was Portsmouth who got on the scoreboard first, with a well taken interception by centre Evan Watts who took the ball just inside the O.C’s half way line and raced clear for his 1st try. Gareth Davies was on target with the conversion and the score was 0 – 7. O.C’s were soon on the attack and a catch and drive from a 5 metre lineout saw them cross for a converted try taking the score to 7 apiece. Portsmouth then lost No.8 Ollie Simpson to a yellow card for a deliberate slapdown of the ball. O.C’s were able to increase their score from the resultant penalty with a converted try giving them a 14 – 7 lead into half time.
Portsmouth got the second half underway playing into a stiff breeze but it was them who kept attacking the O.C’s line and from a series of raids they were eventually successful with Evan Watts crossing for his second try. Gareth Davies was again on target with the conversion bringing the score to 14 – 14. More Portsmouth pressure saw them camped on the home sides’try line but they just couldn’t find a way through. Eventually they lost possession of the ball which enabled O.C’s to clear their line with a good kick upfield. From a 5 metre lineout they set up another catch and drive and scored their 3rd try making the score 19 – 14. O.C’s 4th.bonus point try came shortly afterwards giving them a 26 – 14 lead. This rather knocked the visitors back and O.C’s were now getting into their stride with a couple of tries coming in quick succession taking the score to 45 – 14. Portsmouth injury woes continued with hooker John Nichols having to come off with a achillies injury to be followed by Anthony Fookes who sustained an ankle injury. Fooks had been propping at the start of the game but then went to hooker. This meant that as Portsmouth had no other front row replacement the scrums were now uncontested. Portsmouth managed to get back into the game and again camped on the O.C’s try line but just couldn’t find a way through. Eventually they lost possession and O.C’s were suddenly scoring at the other end, taking the score to 50 – 14. The final score came right on the stroke of full time giving O.C’s a 57 – 14 victory. This was a very disappointing result but with a much changed side from recent weeks and a long injury list of some experienced senior players it has been extremely difficult to select a settled team. Today they had only 2 nominated subs available. That is not to say that today’s squad didn’t work hard throughout the match as they certainly did that. There were some moves that showed good promise
This result leaves Portsmouth still in 10th.place on 28 points. Basingstoke,who couldn’t fulfill their fixture today, are now bottom with O.C’s in 11th.place on 21 points.
Next week sees the final League fixture at home to Andover who beat Old Georgians 46 – 26. Andover are now 5th. with Weybridge Vandals top after beating Alton 15 – 89.
Next week also sees a special lunch in honour of Peter Golding, who is stepping down as President after 50 years in various Club roles. He has been a fantastic servant to the Club. This will precede the fixture versus Andover which will kick off at 3.00 p.m.