Basingstoke vs Portsmouth, Saturday 11th March 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Basingstoke vs Portsmouth, Saturday 11th March 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Basingstoke 41- 43 Portsmouth

Match report by Jim Dixon

Firstly I must apologise for my error in last weeks’ match report on the Alton fixture.  I mistakenly reported that Tim Rollett had been taken to Hospital with a suspected broken ankle where-as it was actually Josh Howell-Williams and it has since been reported that he has sustained ligament damage and not a broken ankle. My apologies to all concerned

Today’s game is the penultimate fixture of the season for League matches with the delayed fixture against Gosport & Fareham to be played at Rugby Camp next Saturday with a 3.00.p.m.K.O.  This will be followed by the new Cup Competition, start date and fixtures to be announced.

This was a rather unusual game with the lead changing 12 times throughout the match,  Lots of penalties for both sides made it a rather disjointed match but it was, never the less exciting despite everything.  Basingstoke always seem to raise their game when we meet at their ground and certainly their very large Fijian Army centre and their Number 8, caused Portsmouth plenty of problems as did former Basingstoke 1st XV and County player Simon Appleby until he was firstly yellow carded and then,  towards the end of the match,  red carded for a high tackle.

Basingstoke opened the scoring with a try from their Fijian Army centre giving them a 5 -0 lead.  A penalty against ‘Stoke gave Portsmouth their first opportunity for a score but good defence kept them out but eventually the ball was spun wide and the final pass was taken by Tim Rollett Who scored out wide. The conversion missed and the scores were level at 5 apiece.  From a good turn over by Portsmouth the ball was spun wide and it was left to Sam Olie to race away from the defenders to score their 2nd.try and with Morgan’s conversion on- target they took the lead 5- 12.  Basingstoke were soon back with a converted try to bring the scores level again at 12-12.  From a lineout ‘Stoke took clean ball and scored their 3rd.try close to the posts giving them back the lead  at 19-12.. They were then able to increase that lead with their 4th.try,unconverted, to 24-12.  Following a period of pressure from Portsmouth their efforts were finally  rewarded with an unconverted try scored by Simon Morgan closing the gap to 24-17.

The second half started with both sides trying to get the upper hand but it was ‘Stoke who scored first when they broke through the middle to score under the posts. With the conversion true they extended their lead to 31-17. That was their 4th. bonus point try.  After a series of penalties against ‘Stoike, Portsmouth were able to work their way upfield and eventually Sam Olie crossed for his second and Portsmouth’s 4th.bonus point try.  \The conversion missed and the score now stood at 31-22.  ‘Stoke soon hit back with a score of their own thus extending their lead to 36-22 as the conversion missed.  Basingstoke were then reduced to 14 when their No.7 was yellow carded.  Shortly after this Portsmouth scored yet again through Greg Hoolihan and with the conversion good the score as now 36-29.  Portsmouth then set up a good handling move with the ball going across the field and back again with Morgan taking the final pass to score close to the posts. Gareth Davies took over the kicking duties and with his conversion the score was now 36-36. From the re-start Portsmouth caught the ball deep in their 22 but the clearance kick was charged down by ‘Stoke who were up very quickly and they managed to gather and score an unconverted try thus regaining the lead 41-36.  Portsmouth were not done yet and from a penalty that gave them a lineout close to the ‘Stoke try line they set up a clean catch and drive which saw Ollie Simpson crash over.  Davies was again on target and they now held a slender lead 41-43 with only a few minutes left.  A penalty against ‘Stoke saw their No.7 red carded for a high tackle.  From that penalty Portsmouth kicked for touch and from that lineout they won good ball which was delivered to Tom Sanderson who kicked into touch and the ref’s final whistle went  with a hard fought victory to Portsmouth by 41-43.  ‘Basingstoke’s performance in this game certainly deceived their basement position in the league although they always seem to be able to raise their game when we play at their ground.  Their big Fijian centre and the No.8 caused plenty of problems for Portsmouth as did their No.7 Simon Appleby before he was carded.   Also Portsmouth’s first up tackling was way off today giving ‘Stoke the opportunity to get deep into the Portsmouth half.  It was however pleasing to get the third consecutive bonus point win. And they did show character to come back from a 31-17 deficit to close out a narrow win.  This was a rather strange match with a total of 84 points scored and penalties aplenty  given out which rather disrupted the flow of the game.  Tommy Hare showed glimpses of his pace at full back and Tom Sanderson had yet another impressive game at scrum half. but the whole squad did so well in the fight back in the last 20 minutes..  Special mention must also be made of Prop Ian French who yet again stepped into the breech with some regulars being unavailable  He again played the full 80 minutes and that is no mean feat as he is into his forties. This is about the 3rd.or 4th time this season he has been called upon,  so well done Frenchy! 
Next week sees the final League match of the season with  the re-arranged fixture against Gosport & Fareham.  They are just 1 place above Portsmouth in the League on 54 points. They drew against Bournemouth 2’s 14- 14.  Portsmouth’s victory sees them stay in on 44 points. Trojans are 8th.on 39 points having beaten Alton 5-77.  Elsewhere Jersey beat Winchester 23-13 so remain top and undefeated. Winchester are 2nd. with Havant 2’s in third place..

Next weeks kick-off is 2:30 p.m.