Portsmouth v Eastbourne, Saturday 27th.April, Papa John Cup-Quarter Final

Portsmouth v Eastbourne, Saturday 27th.April, Papa John Cup-Quarter Final

Portsmouth travelled to Eastbourne for this Cup Quarter Final. The teams were fairly well matched with Eastbourne finishing their league in 6th.place and Portsmouth finishing theirs in 5th. Eastbourne had scored more points than Portsmouth but had a worse points difference having conceeded more. The journey proved to be anything but straightforward as the main road at Lancing was closed to traffic and although there were diversion signs the surrounding roads were pretty gridlocked. It took ages to clear the diversion which didn’t help the mindset of the players. Once through it was a pretty straightforward run.

It was a grey blustery day which threatened rain but the start was O.K. Portsmouth had to make a very late change when Stewart Davies was forced to withdraw as he had been called in for work. His place was taken by Brad Jewer who was originally selected at fullback. Matt Pilbeam came off the bench to play No 15.

Eastbourne kicked off and soon showed their intent when they pounced on a Portsmouth error and despite a good tackle on the ball carrier he was able to ship the ball on and they scored under the posts. With the conversion good they took a 7-0 lead with about 3 minutes gone. The next 15 minutes or so saw the game played out between the 22’s. A series of penalties against Eastbourne saw Portsmouth eventually take a kick at goal through Matt Pilbeam. He was on target so the score was now 7-3 with about 15 minutes gone. Eastbourne then managed to run in 3 unconverted tries due mainly to some rather lack lustre tackling taking the score to 22-3. During this period Portsmouth had Lee Chandler yellow carded for not retreating 10 mts. One bright bit of Portsmouth play came towards the end of the first half when the ball was passed to Connor Charlton who managed to step out of one tackle and evade two or three others to eventually score under the posts. Pilbeam converted and the score was now 22-10. Portsmouth then had Elliott Worrall taken off with and ankle injury and his place was taken by Finn Parry, making a welcome return after a lengthy injury period. The rain had by now started and was making handling difficult especially with the grass being rather long and getting very wet.
The half time whistle went with the score 22-10 to the home side.

The second half started with Portsmouth losing Lee Chandler with a leg injury and his place was taken by Will Dalziel. Shortly after the re-start Portsmouth then worked their best move of the match when they caught the ball deep in their half and the ball went through several pairs of hand, with backs and forwards combining well as they got close to the Eastbourne try line but s they closed in on the try line Eastbourne managed to tackle the ball player who then got penalised for failing to release the ball thus enabling the home side to clear their lines. Sam Olie made a great run from his own 22 deep into the opposition 22 before being stopped. Shortly after this there was a bit of ‘handbags’ between Will Dalziel and an Eastbourne player which resulted in both players being yellow carded. Eastbourne then scored the first try of the second half taking the score to 27-10. almost straight after that score they then managed a converted try taking the score to 34-10.

Portsmouth then lost Hwyel Gronow with a groin strain so Harvey Field went on. Portsmouth then managed a score of their own with Finn Parry finishing off a good move to score close to the posts but the conversion missed and the score was now 34-15. The final score of the afternoon came when Eastbourne kicked rather aimlessly upfield and with no one covering it they were able to run in to score close to the posts. The conversion missed and the score was now 39-15. The final whistle went shortly after.

This was a very disappointing performance by Portsmouth bearing in mind some of their recent games. In the main it was tackling that let them down but they also seemed to lack any desire to perform well. There was also too much rather aimless kicking with no real follow up. There were a few players who tackled and ran well but they were in the minority unfortunately. Perhaps it is the Cup itself as if you believe reports in the press, there are more teams withdrawing than taking part. On the whole though this has been a pretty good season bearing in mind injuries and availability. Compared with a few seasons ago we have improved very well and on a plus note the number of Colts used has be very successful and must bode well for the future.

Anyway enjoy your summer break and come back refreshed for a new season.