Andover vs Portsmouth, Saturday 4th February 2023, Counties 1 Hampshire League

Andover vs Portsmouth, Saturday 4th February 2023, Counties 1 Hampshire League

Match Report by Jim Dixon

Andover 50 – 10 Portsmouth

This Saturday was officially a rest day but due to the Competition Committee re-arranging postponed fixtures Portsmouth found themselves with this fixture and several 1st Xv players missing due to either making other arrangements or due to injury.  Andover had already got a fixture v Havant  2’s so they just had to change their opponents.

With a team made up of  7 second team players plus the remaining 1’s regulars the squad looked somewhat different to the usual one. The main point of interest was prop Ian French making his rare appearance for the 1’s and in so doing celebrating his 350th. appearance in all 1st XV competitions.  Last week he was playing for the Vets which he says is played at a much more leisurely pace!

Ian French made his 350th 1st team appearance for Portsmouth

Andover soon had Portsmouth defending their own try line and only good defence kept the line intact.  In fact they should have scored a couple of times but good tackling by the visitors made them rush the final pass and twice the ball went into touch.  However  pressure did tell eventually and a penalty for offside saw Andover convert from the 22 giving them a 3  –  0  lead.  Portsmouth went on the attack from the re-start and camped on the Andover line but although they crossed the Ref deemed the ball held up giving the home side a goal line drop out.  However a penalty to Portsmouth saw Simon Morgan take a kick at goal from near the touch line which he duly converted so the score was level at 3 all.  Andover were soon back on the attack and they gained a penalty for Portsmouth not releasing after the tackle which saw them re-take the lead 6  –  3.  This was followed shortly after by another penalty which saw them stretch their lead to 9  –  3.  Morgan then got a yellow card for a bad tackle so Portsmouth were down to 14 for ten minutes.  A further penalty to Andover saw them take the score to 12  –  3 and the half time whistle went shortly after.

Morgan came back on after a couple of minutes of the second half. Andover were now playing with the benefit of the considerable slope in their favour. 

With the benefit of a heavier pack and some quick runners they soon scored the first try of the match taking their lead to 17  –  3 as the conversion missed.  A second try soon followed taking the score to 22-  3. A yellow card to Andover was followed by another try and the conversion made the score 29  –  3.  a 4th.try took the Andover lead to 36  –  3.  Portsmouth were not subdued by the score line and took the ball deep into the home side’s 22.  There they pressed hard to add to their tally and eventually from a 5 metre scrum, No.9 Cam McGuigan took the ball from the No.8’s feet and dummied to go open. He then quickly took a dart on the blind side to cross for Portsmouth first try. Morgan converted a difficult kick and the score was now 36  –  10.  Andover hit back with another converted try, to take the score to 43  –  10.  In the dying minutes of the match they scored their final try under the posts giving them a 50  –  10 victory.

With Andover’s bigger and mobile pack Portsmouth were always going to have to work hard to contain them but  they did keep going right to the end.  But eventually all that defensive work took its toll as fatigue began to set in in the last quarter.  However they should all be proud of their efforts.  

Next week sees a resumption of normal league fixtures and Portsmouth are on the road again, this time to Bournemouth for a fixture against their 2nds. 

Lets hope that some of the injured players are available for selection together with today’s other absentees.

This result sees Portsmouth stay in 7th. place .  Jersey remain top and still unbeaten after a 7  –  109 victory away to Petersfield.  Winchester are 2nd following a AWO against Bournemouth 2’s.  Alton beat Gosport & Fareham in a close match 20   –  18.