Portsmouth vs Andover, Saturday 9th March 2024

Portsmouth vs Andover, Saturday 9th March 2024

This match was rescheduled from a postponed fixture in January due to unplayable pitches. This was originally scheduled for a 3.00 p.m. K.O. but during the week Andover requested if the game could be brought forward to 2.00 p.m. which was agreed by the hosts.  Unfortunately the Club website was not altered so apologies to those members who turned up for a later K.O.  

This was a match between 5th,place (Portsmouth) and 2nd place (Andover) and promised to be a fiesty affair and so it proved.

Andover got the game underway and were soon on the scoreboard when Portsmouth were penalised. The conversion gave Andover a short lived lead 0 – 3.  However Portsmouth soon hit back when from a scrum Ollie Simpson took the ball upfield dummying his way and eventually passing to Leo Wall on the wing,  he cut inside and raced through to score out wide. The conversion missed but Portsmouth now led 5 – 3 with about 7 minutes on the clock. 

Shortly after the restart Tom Sanderson had cleared the ball but was tackled very late which saw the offending player yellow carded. Andover were then marched back a further 10 metres for back chatting the Referee.  From a scrum close to the Portsmouth try line they had won the ball but were getting pushed back as the ball squirted out the side of the scrum. The Andover wing forward quickly gathered the ball and raced through towards the try line to score. However Leo Wall had other ideas and he had raced across form the other wing and as the Andover player was diving to touch down Wall also launched himself and executed to perfect tackle making his opponent drop the ball forward before he could touch down and he was bundled into touch in goal.  A series of penalties against Andover saw Portsmouth take a quick tap penalty by Fooks who raced through to the try line taking the score to 10 – 3. 

More Portsmouth pressure saw them awarded  5 metre lineout and from a good catch and drive prop Phill Gilliland scored their 3rd.try taking their lead to 15 – 3. Portsmouth were soon on the attack again with the ball going through various hands across the field and back eventually finishing with Ollie Simpson who scored close to the posts. This time Sanderson was able to convert and the score was now 22 – 3. This was their 4th. and bonus point score.  The half time whistle went shortly after.

The second half got underway with Portsmouth playing with the wind at their backs.  Portsmouth made changes with Liam Avis coming on to the front row and Fooks going to the back row with Dan Spencer making way for him. Connor Charlton also came off to be replaced by Brad Jewer who had been at fullback. He was replaced by Matt Pilbeam. 

Andover certainly stepped up their efforts in the second half and Portsmouth were defending for periods. Fortunately their line held firm.

Portsmouth then lost Lee Chandler to a yellow card for knocking the ball out of the hand of an Andover player.  Ollie Simpson then came off to be replaced by Dan Spencer and shortly after that Chandler was also allowed back on. From a moment of Andover pressure Alex Higson then managed to steal the ball from Andover and he raced away before offloading to winger Harvey Field who scored his first try for Portsmouth. Sanderson was on target with the conversion and the score was now 29 – 3.

Good anticipation by Aaron Beesley saw him intercept an Andover pass and he raced away down field. Harvey Field was again the recipient of a pass and he scored his second try which was also converted by Sanderson taking the score to 36 – 3.  It was now the turn of Andover to get on the score board following a period off pressure as they scored their first try taking the score to 36 – 8.. More pressure from Andover kept Portsmouth defending well but eventually they were awarded a penalty try as Portsmouth had deliberately pulled down a maul. That took the final score to 36 – 15. 

It was a very satisfactory result for Portsmouth who thoroughly deserved their victory.  The forwards edged the forward battle and the backs certainly held sway in that area.  They are developing a very good centre partnership with Stewart Davies and Sam Olie and that is now coming to fruition.  Connor Charlton also showed touches of what he has done before as he seems to be struggling a bit recently. Lets hope he has turned the corner.

Man of the match was awarded to Sam Olie by Club President Nigel Morgan.  Not only was he prominent in attack but his organisational skills in defence were excellent. 

The tackle of the day certainly belongs to Leo Wall for his second half try saving tackle in the in-goal area.  

Two items of note to be considered, 1) 1st XV skipper Ollie Simpson’s perm.  2) Touch Judge Bernie Mallender’s pork pie hat that he wears when running touch. 

This result sees Portsmouth move up to 4th. in the league on 51 points. Next week sees Portsmouth travel to Ellingham & Ringwood who are in 6th place on 44 points.