Portsmouth vs Ellingham & Ringwood, Saturday 2nd December 2023

Portsmouth vs Ellingham & Ringwood, Saturday 2nd December 2023

Counties 1 Hampshire League

Match Report by Jim Dixon.

The day started with a Christmas Lunch held for 70 members and their guests. During the proceeding President Nigel Morgan spoke about Junior Club member Jonathon Warbrick as this was the first anniversary of his very untimely death. His son and family were present and he made a very emotional address in which he presented the Club with a silver trophy to be played for annually between a Portsmouth XV and a Portsmouth University team with the winner holding the trophy for that year.
Before today’s match started both teams and Portsmouth 3rds/Fareham Heathens lined up in front of the Clubhouse and gave a minutes applause in his memory.

Portsmouth got the match underway and straight away put Ellingham under pressure deep in their 22. When Ellingham won a penalty they were only able to clear the ball to their own 22. Eventually this pressure was turned into points for Portsmouth when from a 5 metre line out they set up a driving maul to score out wide through Brad Atkins. Gareth Davies kick just went wide so the score stayed 5 – 0 with about 10 minutes gone. Another 5 metre line out to Portsmouth was deemed not straight by the ref, giving Ellingham a chance to clear their lines. This constant pressure by Portsmouth kept Ellingham pinned in their half but despite this advantage they were unable to convert that territory into points until Portsmouth were awarded a penalty as Ellingham were pinged for not releasing the tackled player. This time Davies was on target and the lead was now 8 – 0. Ellingham had only managed to get into the Portsmouth 22 on just 1 occasion and even then they were repelled by good Portsmouth defence when they were closing in on the Portsmouth line. The score stayed 8 – 0 to the home side as the half time whistle went.

The second half started with a much livelier Ellingham with Portsmouth on the back foot having to defend their try line which they did pretty well. Shortly after the re-start Portsmouth made a tactical change with full back Bred Jewer coming off and his place was taken by Gareth Davies. His fly half position was taken by Hywell Gronow making his 1st XV debut. He is currently playing for the Colts and is the son of Portsmouth wing legend Matt Gronow who used to score tries for fun.

Portsmouth gradually got control back but had a further set back when they lost No. 8 Elliott Worrall with a suspected break in his collarbone. He was replaced by Ollie Simpson, making his first appearance since breaking a bone in has hand in one of the earlier warm up games before the League matches got underway. Portsmouth had a further opportunity to increase their lead with a penalty but Davies’ kick just slid outside the post. With Portsmouth back in attacking mode they had another driving maul and closing on the try line Liam Avis managed to secure the touch down. Davies was again off target and the lead was now 13 – 0. Aaron Beesley had made some telling runs in the first half and this continued in the second half especially when he charged through the opposition, making about 25- 30 metres before being stopped. With the game approaching full time Ellingham made a desperate attempt to score but although they crossed the try line Portsmouth managed to get under the ball thus preventing the score and giving them a goal line dropout. With the game deep in stoppage time Portmouth were able to put the ball in touch and the final whistle went with a victory and 4 points to Portsmouth.

Hwyell Gronow certainly wasn’t overawed by the occasion and got his back line moving well with crisp passing and showing some of his father’s ability in stepping opponents. Centre Dan Gates does what he does best, good tackling throughout the game. Bryn Rainford caused problems for Ellingham
at the breakdown and 2nd row Sam Foster nicked a couple of line outs. Aaron Beesley continued where he left off last week, charging his way through the opposition. Despite all that this was a rather scrappy and disjointed game although the Portsmouth defence held up very well, especially in the second half. Not a game for the purists.

In the Clubhouse afterwards Aaron Beesley was named Man of the match for the second week running by Mo Twells who also presented his prize.
This win stills sees Portsmouth in 5th place on 30 points. Next week’s opponents are Gosport & Fareham away. They won away to Bognor 17 – 34. Gosport are 3rd on 39 points.