Jim Dixon writes…
Portsmouth travelled to Weybridge with many changes to the team that played last week and with Sam Olie a late withdrawal from the bench his place was taken by Tim Weald Who has recently joined the Club. Mark Ovens was making his welcomed first league appearance this season at full back.
Conditions were pretty atrocious with a strong wind and pouring rain as Weybridge got proceedings underway playing with the elements in their favour. From an early Portsmouth scrum, Toby Cripps made good ground before releasing the ball to winger Tom Hopkins but his final pass was deemed forward giving Weybridge a scrum. Portsmouth then managed to force them into a knock on and were able get the ball away upfield. Portsmouth then lost Mark Ovens 10 minutes into the game when he made a tackle on an attacking player who used a forearm to his head to fend him off. Ovens then had to leave the field with concussion. His place was taken by Tim Weald. There was no sanction from the official. The Portsmouth scrum was beginning to come under pressure but despite that, No.8 Ollie Simpson was able to take the ball and move up field. 20 minutes into the game Weybridge were awarded a penalty almost in front of the posts which they managed to convert having missed an earlier one from a similar position, giving them a 3 – 0 lead. A good kick up field by flyhalf Keiran McRoberts saw Portsmouth put Weybridge under pressure causing them to knock on. But try as they might the visitors just couldn’t find a way through the resolute defence and eventually the half time whistle went with Weybridge leading by a solitary penalty 3 – 0.
As Portsmouth got the second half under way prop Brad Atkins was taken off to be replaced by Adam Parks-Dare. Unfortunately for the visitors the wind had now dropped to just a gentle breeze although the rain was still pretty heavy. Portsmouth were struggling to get a hold on the game and after a while No.8 Ollie Simpson came off to be replaced by Bryn Rainsford, Weybridge then had a chance to further increase their lead with a penalty awarded in front of the posts but the kick missed. With the game going from end to end and both sides struggling to hold on the the slippery ball, scrum half Elloit Davis came off to be replaced by Brad Atkins., He went in to replace Greg Hoolihan as hooker and Greg moved to the No.9 position. Weybridge were continuing with their scrum dominance and from a set piece inside the Portsmouth 22 they managed to drive over the try line for a hotly disputed try. As the pile of players broke up Portsmouth emerged with the ball but the referee stood by his decision. With the conversion in front of the posts secured Weybridge took a 10 – 0 lead on 62 minutes. Portsmouth then had a change in the 2nd row as Toby Cripps came off to be replaced by Ollie Simpson. He took the No.8 spot with Rainsford going in to the second row. Portsmouth then managed to spoil a Weybridge lineout to set up a good move in the 3’s but were still unable to make that all important breakthrough. Portsmouth then looked to have a good scoring chance as the ball was kicked down field but the final bounce evaded winger Tom Hopkins and the covering Weybridge fullback was just able to fly kick the ball into touch as the final whistle went with the score 10 – 0.
A very disappointing result for the visitors who despite all the changes, worked hard to get on the score board but to no avail. The conditions certainly made handling difficult and both sides had trouble holding on to the ball which was like a bar of soap at times. Also it seemed as though the visitors were on the wrong end of some decisions which didn’t help their cause. The one good thing to came out of the match was the display of Tim Weald at full back who was solid under attack and had a very strong kicking game.
As Ovens will be out for a while with his concussion he could be a much needed replacement.
Next week is a rest week which hopefully will give Portsmouth time to regroup in readiness of the visit to Rugby Camp of Petersfield who beat Old Georgians away 14 – 27 which sees them in 5th.place. Trojans are top after beating Basingstoke 50 – 5. Andover are second after being awarded a home walkover v Old Emanual. Portsmouth remain in 9th.place.