Portsmouth welcomed Jersey Athletic to Rugby Camp on a sunny but windy day, The late withdrawl of Brad Jewer due to work commitments meant that Matt Higgins was promoted from the bench and his place was taken by ‘Diesel’.
Jersey were playing with the wind at their backs as Portsmouth kicked off and soon put pressure on Jersey which earned them a scrum on the Jersey 22. A penalty against Jersey at scrum time followed by a second penalty saw Simon Morgan kick to touch, despite being almost in front of the posts, giving Portsmouth a 5 metre lineout. Unfortunately Jersey managed to take the ball and eventually they made their way down field. They actually crossed for their first try but the Referee called them back for a forward pass but as Portsmouth had transgressed just before that the penalty was given to Jersey. Jersey set up a good driving maul and crossed for their first try of the match. The kick kissed and the score was 0 – 5 after 10 minutes, From the restart Jersey managed to reclaim the ball and set up another driving maul for their second try which was converted making the score 0 – 12. Their next score also came from a driving maul which took their lead to 0 – 19. Portsmouth, to their credit, weren’t overawed by their opponents and really got stuck in, forcing Jersey to give a series of penalties away. Their efforts were soon rewarded when Sam Foster crossed for Portsmouth’s first try converted by Simon Morgan. The score was now 7 – 19 with nearly half an hour gone. Jersey soon hit back however, with their 4th, try which was converted, extending their lead to 7 – 26 with 5 minutes of the half remaining. In the closing minutes Jersey added their next try showing their handling skills in the process, as the ball went through many hands. The try was converted as the half time whistle went with the score 7 – 33 to the visitors.
The second half started with former Portsmouth skipper Greg Hoolihan making a welcome return to the team for his first match of the season. He replaced Brad Atkins. From a 5 metre lineout Portsmouth won good ball as Anthony Fookes drove forward and managed to pass to Khatib Yehia who crossed for his first try for the Club. Again Morgan was on target with the conversion and the score was now 14 – 33. A penalty against Jersey for a high tackle gave Portsmouth a lineout on the Jersey 22. Portsmouth were enjoying a bit of a purple patch and forcing Jersey to give away penalties. Connor Charlton had a good run in the Jersey 22 which was stopped by some good defence. Shortly after this a scuffle broke out which involved mainly forwards from both sides which was eventually subdued. This resulted in both teams loosing a player to the bin for 10 minutes. Portsmouth won the ensuing penalty resulting in a 5 metre scrum. Portsmouth won quick ball and the ball was passed to Morgan who drove to the line for a good try. Converting his own try the score was now 21 – 33 and Portsmouth were desperately seeking that 4th. bonus point score. But Jersey had other ideas and were equally determined that we wouldn’t score. From a good kick by Morgan resulting in a 50/22 touch kick Portsmouth has a lineout 6 metres from the jersey try line. From the throw in it was Jersey who rose the highest as their No.8 took the ball and broke through the lineout to make good ground before being stopped around the Portsmouth 22 but not before he had managed to offload to a supporting player. The ball then went through various hands before they crossed wide out for an excellent unconverted try. The score was now 21 – 38. Another good Portsmouth attack came to nought when Connor Charlton gave the slightest of knock ons when they were about 6 metres from the try line. Another length of the field try by Jersey saw them stretch the lead to 21 – 43. Jersey were now in full flow as Portsmouth were begining to show the effects of the efforts they had been putting in and 2 further tries followed taking the final score to 21 – 57 as the final whistle went. The last 20 minutes really showed the benefits of good fitness as Portsmouth tackles were begining to fall off. However Portsmouth certainly played their part in a very exciting game. Jersey will undoubtedley be the best team we will meet in this League but at least as of today Portsmouth had scored the most points against them.
Jersey were a very accomplished team, all very skillful with great ball handling skills. There was always someone backing up the ball carrier. As is often the case when Portsmouth play really good opposition they really up their game and that was certainly true of today’s game. The whole squad should be proud of their efforts. This result sees Portsmouth slip down 1 place to 7th.
Next week sees Portsmouth at home again in the re-arranged game against Basingstoke which is a 3.00 p.m kick off. Basingstoke won their match against Bournemouth 2’s 20-19, giving them their first win of the season. They are in 8th place. Lets not forget that when we played Bournemouth away last season they had not won a game up till then and we came away with a bad loss.
YEHIA KHATIB, BRAD ATKINS, RYAN MOORE, MAX CLARKE(C), SAM FOSTER, RHYS BOWEN, ANTHONY FOOKS, OLLIE SIMPSON, TOM SANDERSON, LEE CHANDLER, MATT HIGGINS, SIMON MORGAN, ALI MACDONALD, CONNOR CHARLTON, JASHAN SOLANKI.
Replacements: AARON BEESLEY, GREG HOOLIHAN, ‘DIESEL’.