Trojans vs Portsmouth, Saturday 16th December 2023

Trojans vs Portsmouth, Saturday 16th December 2023

Portsmouth travelled the fairly short distance to Trojans hoping to do the double on their opponents having won the first encounter 57 – 13 back in September. However this was a slightly changed side from the last game with injuries and unavailability but it still looked a pretty strong side. This is the last fixture before the Christmas break so it was hoped that they could finish the year on a bit of a high.

It was a calm day with only a slight breeze blowing diagonally across the pitch away from the Club house. Trojans got the match underway with prop Fooks catching the ball and made inroads into the Trojans half but a knock on gave a scrum to the home side just outside the 22. Trojans then won a penalty almost in front of the posts and between the Portsmouth 22 and half way line. The kick was successful and they led 3 – 0 after 3 or 4 minutes. Portsmouth were soon back on the attack and eventually won a penalty between the halfway line and the Trojans 22. Gareth Davies was on target with the kick and the scores were now level at 3 a’piece. Portsmouth set a a good attack with the ball going through several pairs of hands and it was No.8 Bryn Rainford who finished of the move with a try close to the posts. Davies was again on target and they now led 3 – 10 on about 15 minutes.

With the game being played between the 22’s neither side could really impose themselves on the match. Portsmouth then made some changes with prop Adam Parks-Dare coming of to be replaced by the evergreen Ian French who reaches the grand age of 47 on Monday!. Also coming on for his debut 1st XV appearance is last years Colts captain and Hampshire Colts player Liam Glazebrook. He is currently at Newcastle Uni. and is back for the Christmas break. He took the place of Lee Chandler in the back row. Portsmouth were enjoying plenty of territory advantage but could not make the final pass stick. Eventually the half time whistle went with Portsmouth still enjoying a 3 – 10 lead.

The second half started with Colt Hywell Gronow coming on as fullback Brad Jewer came off. Gareth Davies moved from 10 to 15 and Gronow to the flyhalf position. Portsmouth had a chance to increase their lead with a penalty but Davies’ kick into the breeze just shaded the outside post so the score remained 3 – 10. Another chance went begging with the final pass to Connor Charlton missing him and going into touch. Matt Austin then came off and Lee Chandler went back on. Glazebrook moved to the 2nd.row with Chandler taking his place on the flank. Also going back on is Parks-Dare as Ian French came off.

From a 5 metre lineout Trojans managed to keep possession and scored close to the posts. The conversion was good so the scores were back level as 10 – 10 with about 17 minutes of the second half played. Portsmouth then lost Bryn Rainford with a recurrence of an ankle injury he received against Bognor. Ian French went back on. Pressure from Trojans eventually saw them score their 2nd try which was converted, taking the score to 17 – 10. Portsmouth then set up a good attacking move with a great run from Hywell Gronow who raced down the wing but the Trojans touch judge put up his flag claiming his foot touch the line.

Portsmouth were defending their try line when they suddenly found some space and set up a great attacking move that saw the ball go across the field and back going through several pairs of hand in the process and eventually centre Liam Wall finished of what must be the move of the match so far, with a well taken try. Davies’ conversion from out wide just shaded the post but Portsmouth were now only 2 points adrift from Trojans 17 – 15. Another chance went begging with the final pass missing the recipient. Despite more Portsmouth pressure they were unable to secure the win as the final whistle went with the slender victory to Trojans 17 – 15.

Not the result Portsmouth had wanted, this was a very frustrating game with so many chances being missed. Despite that there were good performances from several players with Connor Charlton showing good pace although he should perhaps have confidence in going round the opposition instead of trying to go through them. To my mind the player that really stood out was centre Dan Gates, he had several good runs and his tackling was spot on. He is just gets on with his job without any fuss but the opposition certainly know he is around when he tackles them. Hywell Gronow certainly slotted in very well showing good turns of speed and some lovely well timed passes. Talking to his Dad in the Clubhouse after the game he reckons that he will eventually be faster than he was in his prime which is rather daunting prospect for any opposition!
This result still sees Portsmouth in 5 place in the League on 31 points, Trojans are in 6th. place on 29 points. Havant 2’s are in 4th place on 40 points having lost to Bognor 27- 24. Our next game is on January 6th at home to Alton. They cried off against Petersfield and are winless so far at the foot of the League,