Portsmouth v Petersfield, Saturday 6th March 2024

Portsmouth v Petersfield, Saturday 6th March 2024

It hardly seemed possible that this was the final match in our League for this season, where has the time gone? Portsmouth had to make quite a few changes from the usual side, due to unavailability/injury. Most notable of the changes was Ian French starting in the front row and Greg Hoolihan starting at hooker. Ian French was all set for a leisurely trip with the 2’s to play Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Accompanying him was his son Joe. He then got a call from the 1’s to play for them against Petersfield to which he said O.K.. He doesn’t train and at 47 years that is quite reasonable, he just makes the occasional game for the Vets. He has been called on before to be a replacement for the 1’s which usually only means short spells. Greg retired last season at 36 to help out with family duties but has always kept himself pretty fit by entering various sporting activities which include running, swimming and cycling. With all sorts of rumours flying about that Petersfield wanted to score in excess of 80 points to hit 1000 points for the season this had the potential to be a right old battle.

With the wind at their backs Portsmouth got the game underway and Petersfield soon set out their aim with a series of attacks into the Portsmouth half but Portsmouth held out with some good defence. With about 5 Petersfield players who had previously played for Portsmouth this was always going to be an ‘interesting match’. Portsmouth set up a good attack and as the final pass headed towards their winger, a Petersfield player slapped the ball down thus getting a yellow card and giving Portsmouth a penalty. Portsmouth were able to set up a good move into the ‘Field’ 22 and as the ball was spun through several pairs of hands it finished with Connor Charlton who had plenty to do but he managed to get through tackles and although he was help close to the try line he was able to power over for the first try of the match, much to the delight of Portsmouth players and spectators. The conversion missed and the led 5-0 with about 10 minutes on the clock.

The lead was short lived however as ‘Field soon hit back with a try of their own, that conversion also missed so the score was now 5 a’piece. A blow to Portsmouth was an injury to their skipper Ollie Simpson who it turned out had done serious damage to his knee. His place was taken by Dan Spencer. Play was held up for quite a while as Simpson was being treated prior to be stretchered off. Petersfield then added a converted try taking the score to 5-12. From the restart ‘Field then added a third try although there was a forward pass involved. The score was now 5-19 and that score remained till the half time whistle.

The second half started with Ian French being rested and his place taken by Ben Gordon. Shortly after the restart more problems for Portsmouth loomed with an injury to No.8 Aaron Beesley. He was unable to take any further part in the match so Ian French went back on. That meant that Portsmouth had now lost their 2 most potent ball carriers. Fooks was moved from prop to hooker with Greg Hoolihan moving to No.8. Another ‘Field try saw the score at 5-24.

The ‘Field backs were showing their strength with some good pace and handling and soon added a 5th.try taking the score to 5-31. Portsmouth were not giving up and a good run by Tim Rollett to play deep into the ‘Field half before he was stopped. This seemed to spur Portsmouth on and a good move involving all the backs ended with Charlton fighting his was over for his second try taking the score to 10-31. Another ‘Field converted try saw the score move to 10-38.

It was then Portsmouth’s turn to show their capabilities when from a lineout Bryn Rainford took a great catch and charged upfield for about 15 metres before offloading. Brad Jewer then made good ground before offloading to Tim Rollett who finished off the move with his first try. This took the score to 15-38. Another ‘Field try took the score to 15-45. A lineout to ‘Field about 5 metres from the Portsmouth try line saw them drive over to score their final try taking the score to 15-50 as the conversion missed and the final whistle went.

With Petersfield having 4 players who had been playing National 2 last season and a back line of good speed, if at time a bit too greedy for their own good, this was always going to be a hard task but Portsmouth showed great heart and solid defence and should be proud of their efforts, especially as this was in many ways an untried team. Olie Avis at 10 again put on a good display and seemed comfortable with ball in hand, always looking for space.

The result sees Portsmouth finish the League in 5th place on 52 points. The frustrating thing is that with a couple of matches recently that should have been wins they missed the 4th place which was taken by Gosport on 64 points. Next week sees the Vets take on Tottonians in the Vets Cup semi-final at Rugby Camp. On 20th April Portsmouth are again in action in the Papa John Cup when they take on Gosport & Fareham again at Rugby Camp. This will be the 3rd.meeting this season with the result at 1 a’piece. Please try and get to both matches if you can. 3.00 K.O. for both games.
Petersfield and Andover are both promoted to Regional 2 South Central.