The day started with a celebration lunch in honour of Club President Peter Golding who is standing down after 50 years of loyal service to the Club as player, coach, Chairman and President. With nearly 90 members and former players present it was a fitting tribute to a wonderful servant of the Club. He has also played with and against some pretty illustrious players including Barry John, Don Clark in his 2 matches for the Barbarians Rugby Club as the sole uncapped player, as was the tradition in those days. It is probably true to say that Portsmouth R.F.C wouldn’t be where it is today without his hard work and commitment. President Elect Nigel Morgan made a presentation to Peter with a very emotional speech outlining his various achievements and Peter recieved several standing ovations from those present.
On a sunny but rather cold day Portsmouth got proceedings underway. Andover were soon on the attack and only some very robust Portsmouth defence kept them at bay. Eventually a cross kick from Andover went into touch giving Portsmouth a chance to clear their lines from the resultant lineout. Andover had the chance to be first on the score board with a penalty kick but it went wide of the posts. Shortly after this Andover set up another attack and from a long miss pass that was brilliantly read by flyhalf Gareth Davies who intercepted the pass and raced away almost three quarters of the length of the pitch to score wide out. He was also on target with the conversion giving the home side a 7 – 0 lead. Shortly after this Portsmouth again had a chance to increase their lead as they crossed the line but the Ref deemed the ball held up giving Andover a goal line dropout. After a period of pressure from Andover they managed to score out wide which was converted thus taking the score to 7 – 7. with about 5 minutes remaining. Shortly before half time Andover were able to increase their score to 7 – 12 with an unconverted try and the half time whistle went jusy afterward..
Andover got the secopnd half underway with Portsmouth having the benefit of a slight wind at their backs together with a flurry of snow. After a period of pressure from Andover when they were camped about 5 metres from the Portsmouth line, prop Ian French managed to drive Andover back about 10 – 15 metres thus relieving the pressure. However, Andover were soon able to increase their score wth a converted try giving them a 7 – 19 lead. Portsmouth then laid seige to the Andover try line but they eventually lost possession which saw the visitors kick upfield and suddenly they were scoring under the posts taking their scoe to 7 – 26 . Portsmouth were soon back on the attack but eventually they lost possession giving Andover the chance to kick into touch as the final whistle went.
The score probably didn’t reflect the Portsmouth effort although with several players challenging the Ref’s decisions they rsther lost his earlier support. They must realise that that should be the Captains decision alone. Ian French yet again confounded everyone with a good 80 minute performance. Also Anthony Fooks held up well in his roll as prop, he is usually playing No.7. but again he rose to the occassion.
THis has been a very challanging season for players and coaches alike, with the team changing every week. They also had serious injuries to several senior players who missed a huge number of games Head Coach Gareth Richards is unfortunately having to stand down for next season due to work committments which will take up a lot of Saturdays..
After the match President Elect, Nigel Morgan, presented an award to Gareth Richards for many years of playing and coaching at the Club. Also standing down is current 1st team Manager Ian Alvey after many years of valiant service to both the Junior and Senior Club. They will both be sorely missed.
This was the last league fixture for the current season so players and Officials can all take a very well earned rest. Despite today’s loss Portsmouth still remain in 10th.position.
Next season will probably see a re-structuring of the leagues so we will have to wait and see who our opponents will be for the 2022-23 season.
I hope that you all have a good restful Summer break and look forward to seeing you all at Rugby Camp next season.