Portsmouth vs Alton, Saturday 6th January 2024

Portsmouth vs Alton, Saturday 6th January 2024

This fixture was originally scheduled as a League match but due to Alton losing several players to other teams they are endeavoring to fulfill their League fixture with friendly matches instead. This means that Portsmouth are awarded a HWO which gives them a 28 – 0 points victory and 5 points.

This gesture was very much appreciated by Portsmouth who were more than keen to play the game after the disappointing loss to Trojans before Christmas followed by a 3 week layoff with too much Turkey, Christmas pudding and alcohol! The Coaching team also welcomed a couple of new players and a returning Stewart Davies who last played for Portsmouth 5 years ago before being posted overseas. He is now back for a 2 year period, possibly longer. Simon Pinhorne is in the RAF and plays 2nd row or No.7, Also playing today are 2 Colts, Matt Pilbeam, fullback, and Adam Haynes. centre. They both start on the bench today. Also welcomed back was centre Sam Olie who has been out for a very long period due to an injury. He was selected at 13 with Josh Howell-Williams at 12. Leo Wall was moved from centre to wing with Connor Charlton the other winger. Stewart Davies took his favoured fullback place. This gave Portsmouth a new look back line that had not played together before so this was an ideal opportunity to try this new combination.

Alton got the game underway and Portsmouth were soon on the attack. A Portsmouth scrum saw them drive Alton towards the try line but as they set up a handling move the ball got knocked on, However Portsmouth soon made up for that error and from a scrum No.8 Aaron Beesley took the ball and crossed for the first score of the match, The conversion by Tom Sanderson was good and they took a 7 – 0 lead. From the re-start Portsmouth found themselves under a bit of pressure but were soon able to take control and moved the ball upfield. A scrum to Alton on the Portsmouth 22 saw them win the ball and their centre neatly sidestepped his way to the try line to score close to the posts. The conversion was good and the score was now 7 a-piece. Rather poor tackling somewhat aided the score. A Portsmouth lineout just inside the Alton 22 saw them set up a powerful catch and drive resulting in a second try for No.8 Beesley. Sanderson was again on target and they re-took the lead 14 – 7. This was followed shortly after with another try scored by Ant. Fooks. Sanderson was again on target and the lead was now 21 – 7. Portsmouth were now getting into their stride with the new backs combination working well and showing good promise. A strong run by fullback Stewart Davies saw him make good ground before passing to Beesley who powered his way over for Portsmouth’s 4th. try, again converted by Sanderson taking the lead to 28 – 7. The half time whistle went shortly after.

Portsmouth got the second half underway with Stewart Davies coming off to be replaced by Matt Pilbeam at 15. Adam Haynes also came on at 12 to replace Josh Howell-Williams who moved to the wing to replace Leo Wall who came off. Phil Gilliland also came off to be replaced by Sam Foster. He went to the 2nd.row and Finn Parry moved to the front row. Portsmouth were enjoying lots of possession and eventually Sam Olie finished off a good 3’s move with a try under the posts. With no kicking T brought on the kicker had to take a hurried drop kick which just went wide. Tom Sanderson had come off earlier. This took the lead to 33 – 7. A good 3’s handling move saw Matt Pilbeam finish it of with a well taken try. Again the kick missed and the score was now 38 – 7.

A good run by Beesley saw him offload to Simon Pinhorne who took the ball well before passing to Connor Charlton who scored out wide. The conversion missed so the score was now 43 – 7. Lee Chandler, playing at 10, then got into the act with a score of his own under the posts which was converted. This was a deserved try to celebrate his 200th. game in Portsmouth colours. This took the score to 50 – 7. Fin Parry then decided to get in on the act and scored a good try of his own which was converted taking the score to 57 – 7. Matt Pilbeam then scored his second try with a good burst of speed taking the score to 64 – 7 as the conversion went through the posts. Bryn Rainford closed proceeding with a final try which was converted taking the score to 71 – 7 as the full time whistle went.

The new players all performed well and the new combinations also proved successful. It remains to be seen how the team will fare next week against Eastleigh which will be a much tougher opponent. Eastleigh beat Trojans 60 – 5 and are in 7th.place. Although they had a slow start they have begun to put in some impressive wins so an interesting fixture awaits.

In the Club house after the match,President Nigel Morgan thanked Alton for fulfilling the fixture and wished them well for the future. He then presented Club Captain Lee Chandler, with a framed shirt to celebrate his 200th.appearance for Portsmouth.