Jim Dixon writes…
A comprehensive victory of 5 tries to nil saw Portsmouth make amends for last weeks lacklustre display against Basingstoke. On a very wet and windy day with the aftermath of Friday’s storm still being felt, Portsmouth had to change to the Vets pitch as their normal pitch was deemed unplayable. With a few changes to last weeks side it was hoped that they would put in a better performance and they certainly didn’t disappoint despite the weather conditions.
O.E’s kicked off with the wind against them and Portsmouth were soon on the attack. Mark Ovens gathered the ball and put in a good touch kick down field giving O.E’s a lineout near the 10 metre line. Portmouth soon regained possession with Ovens making good ground before passing to full back Tom Hare who took the ball deep in to O.E’s territory before passing back inside but the pass was intercepted enabling them to clear the ball down field. However Portsmouth soon regained the initiative and a good drive by the forwards saw second row Jonny Stoppard crash over for the first try. A good conversion by Hare took Portsmouth to a 7 – 0 lead. From the restart O.E’s took the game deep into the Portsmouth half and from a lineout they attacked the home sides try line. A Portsmouth scrum then saw them penalised for a crooked put in and again O.E’s attacked the line but good defence kept them out. Portsmouth soon moved the ball back upfield with wing forward Matt Hoban crossing the line. The kick missed and the lead was now 12 – 0. From an O.E’s lineout, Stoppard managed to steal the ball and it was soon spun wide to winger Sam Olie who crossed for their 3rd try. Hare was on target with the conversion taking the score to 19 – 0 and the half time whistle went shortly after.
Portsmouth got the second half underway playing into a strong wind as the sun suddenly came out! A knock on by Portsmouth saw O.E’s camp inside the Portsmouth 5 metre line with a series of attacks on the home sides’ try line. Portsmouth defended as though their lives depended on it and for about the next 10 minutes they just tackled to keep their line intact. Every time they got anywhere near the try line the forwards just drove them back. From an O.E’s lineout Stoppard again managed to steal the ball and he made good ground before an excellent tackle stopped him. A kick upfield by O.E’s was gathered by winger Tom Hopkins who ran across the field before straightening up and eventually passing to Olie who sped through to score his second try. A difficult kick just missed and Portsmouth now led by 24 – 0. That was also their 4th. try so they now had a bonus point.
O.E’s made more inroads into the Portsmouth half but again good defensive work saw them kept at bay. After another period of pressure by the visitors, Portmouth managed to break out trhough Stoppard who just kept going despite attempts to stop him. Still making territory Portsmouth kept the movement going and Stoppard was rewarded for his hard work with his second try. Hare was on target with the conversion and the score was now 31 – 0. Shortly after the restart Portsmouth regained possession and a kick to touch saw the referee blow for full time with a resoundiung victory to the home side.
In some ways the second half was better than the first with some fantastic defensive work for quite long periods keeping their line intact. This was a very positive performance by the whole squad who certainly earned their plaudits. After the match and players were back in the Clubhouse O.E’s voted Tom Hare as their Man of the Match. Despite this victory Portsmouth remain in 10th. position on 28 points. Old Emanuel are in 8th.place on 33 points. Alton are in 9th. place on 30 points but with 2 games in hand. Petersfield lost to Warlingham 17 – 19 and Weybridge Vandals now top the league on 73 points with Petersfield 2nd. on 70 points, but they have a game in hand, Basingstoke v Alton was postponed. Next week sees a rest for most of the teams so it will give those Portsmouth players carrying a few knocks a bit of extra time to recover. Their next fixture is away to Old Walcountians who lost 27 – 17 to Old Georgians and are in 5th place on 50 points.