Match report by Jim Dixon
The rugby season is underway and Portsmouth tra’velled to Southampton to play Trojans in this new league The main difference from last season is that with the exception of Bournemouth 2’s and Jersey 2 all the remaining games are in Hampshire which means a bit less travelling. The day was ideal for an open game of rugby with the pitch in fair condition after the recent rains and no wind to speak of.
Unfortunately, with both teams guilty of giving too many penalties away, the game never really got going with too many stoppages. Trojans kicked off and gathered their own kick, taking play into the Portsmouth 22. A penalty to Trojans saw them take the lead 3 – 0 after a couple of minutes. Another penalty against the visitors saw Trojans on the attack again with a kick to touch. Portsmouth managed to turn the ball over from a resultant maul and won a penalty in the process. Portsmouth worked play into the home sides territory and managed to work the ball out to the backs and an impressive run by debut making Duncan Steed saw him race towards the try line only to be tackled into touch by the opposition. The Portsmouth scrum was now being put under a bit of pressure and only good defensive work kept Trojans at bay. Eventually Portsmouth won a penalty for a high tackle by Trojans and Simon Morgan, making a welcome return to Portsmouth, slotted an excellent penalty kick from just inside the Trojans half, taking the score to 3 – 3 with about 10 minutes of the half remaining. Another penalty against Trojans saw Morgan take another shot at goal from a wide angle but the ball just shaded the left hand post. Sam Olie had left the field earlier with a groin strain and was replaced by Connor Charlton. Portsmouth made another change with Aaronn Beesley coming off to be replaced by Ollie Siupson at No.8. From a good driving maul Portsmouth managed to shove Trojans back about 10 metres and crossed the line for a try credited to hooker Anthony Fooks. Morgan’s kick was just wide and they now led 3 – 8 with about 4 minutes of the half remaining. The half time whistle went with Portsmouth looking for more points.
The second half was much as the first with penalties given to both sides thus disrupting the flow of the game. Another good run by Duncan Steed saw him stopped by a high tackle and this time Morgan made sure of his kick extending Portsmouth’s lead to 3 – 11 with about 30 minutes gone. More changes were made by the Portsmouth coaches with Sam Foster coming off to be replaced by Aaron Beesley. Beesley went to No.6 and Worrall went into the second row with Bryn Rainford. The second half was turning into a stop start game as both sides continued to give away penalties. Elliott Worrall managed to steal a Trojans lineout ball and made good ground before he was stopped by a high tackle giving Portsmouth yet another penalty. Portsmouth were trying to add to their score but they just couldn’t get over the line. Portsmouth then found themselves having to defend as Trojans now tried to close the gap. Eventually Portsmouth fell foul of the referee who had by then warned both sides about the penalties being given and Aaron Beesley was given a team yellow card with about 4 minutes remaining. This spurred Trojans on as they were awarded a scrum 5 metres from the try line. With about 2 minutes left more problems for Portsmouth when Ollie Simpson was shown a yellow card, reducing them to 13 players and with another scrum awarded to the home side. this time they made sure with the extra numbers in their pack and they managed to drive Portsmouth over the line for a try which was converted taking the score to a nail biting 10 – 11 with only a couple of minutes left. From the restart Portsmouth managed to keep possession and were eventually awarded a scrum which they managed to win and the ball was kicked into touch followed by the final whistle giving Portsmouth the slenderest of wins.
Portsmouth won this game mainly on their defence which was pretty solid throughout the match. It was only in the dying moments when they were down to 13 that Trojans managed to get over the line. Duncan Steed on the wing showed good pace, making good ground on several occasions and the centre partnership of Morgan and Josh Howell-Williams looks promising. It was also good to see that Morgan hasn’t lost his ability to put in long touch kicks together with his conversions. It was a mightily relieved team of Coaches when the final whistle went together with supporting spectators that everyone was able to breathe freely again. To get this first game out of the way with a win was great for all concerned even if the game itself wasn’t a spectacle. Portsmouth have had this problem of giving away needless penalties for too long. If they can cut that down then they will be in a much better place for future games.
This win sees them in 5th. place on 4 points, next weeks opponents are Petersfield who drew with Basingstoke 29 – 29. They are in 7th. place on 3 points.
Lets hope that we get a good crowd to cheer the home side on.
TEAM: Yehia Khatib. Anthony Fookes, Finn Parry.
Bryn Rainford, Sam Foster,.
Elliott Worrall, Murray Hobson, Aaron Beesley,
Harry Drew, Lee Chandler(c).
Sam Olie, Simon Morgan, Josh Howell-Williams, Duncan Steed.
BENCH: Tom Smith, Ollie Simpson, Connor Charlton.