Ellingham & Ringwood vs Portsmouth, Saturday 16th March 2024

Ellingham & Ringwood vs Portsmouth, Saturday 16th March 2024

Portsmouth travelled to Ellingham & Ringwood for this return fixture having won 13-0 in their first encounter. With only a couple of changes from last week, prop Phill Gilliland was unavailable as was Brad Jewer who played fullback.

Before the game got underway teams lined up for a minutes silence for an Ellingham Club Member who passed away suddenly last week.

Portsmouth got the game underway and for a while play was contained between the 10 metre lines with neither side able to get any real control. Portsmouth then had a kick upfield resulting from a penalty against Ellingham. A good 5 metre touch was found but the ball was lost at the lineout enabling Ellingham to take play back downfield. A poor pass to Aarron Beesley could not be gathered as the ball was knocked on. Ellingham were now putting pressure on the Portsmouth try line and only some very good defence by the visitors kept the score board intact. Eventually pressure told and Ellingham crossed for a try but again stout defence by Portsmouth saw them manage to get under the ball thus denying Ellingham the try. Another 5 metre scrum again saw Ellingham cross the line but again Portsmouth managed to hold the ball up. After 16 minutes Portsmouth had a shot at goal but the kick just shaded the outside post. A third attempt by Ellingham at a drive for the line again saw Portsmouth hold the ball up. Portsmouth then had Lee Chandler yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.

Ellingham set up another attack and as they spun the ball wide it was only a brilliant tackle by winger Connor Charlton who stopped a certain try as he drove his opponent into touch before he could touch down. However it was Ellingham who got on the score board first with a penalty, taking a 3-0 lead on 29 minutes. Portsmouth then made a change when Ben Gordon came on to replace Dan Spencer on the flank. Portsmouth were then back to a full compliment with Chandler having served his 10 minutes in the bin. Portsmouth had more problems when prop Liam Avis had to come off with bruised ribs to be replaced by the evergreen Ian French in the front row. An excellent move by Portsmouth saw the ball moved slickly across the backs and a final pass was lobbed up in the air to be caught by Beesley as he raced down the touch line to score out wide. Tom Sanderson was on target with a difficult conversion and they now took the lead 3-7 as the half time whistle went as the ball dissected the posts.

The second half started with Portsmouth making another change with Josh Howell-Williams being replaced at full back by Harvey Field, An infringement by Portsmouth at a scrum saw Ellingham awarded a penalty in front of the posts which they duly converted taking the score to 6-7 on 48 minutes. Another penalty against Portsmouth for a high tackle saw Ellingham take the lead 9-7 on 53 minutes. Ben Spencer then went back on to replace Ben Gordon.

It was then Portsmouth’s turn to trouble the score board when from a scrum about 10 metres from the try line they won good ball and Alex Higson gathered and fought his way over for their second try. Again Sanderson was on target and they now led 9-14 on 59 minutes. Shortly after this Ellingham had a player red carded for kicking the Portsmouth No.8 as he was lying on the ground. There was a lot of anger directed at Portsmouth by the home team supporters which seemed to spread to the Ellingham players who were then marched 10 metres down field. Ellingham had a chance to further increase their lead when they had a penalty on the 10 metre line and just to the side of the posts but the kick went wide leaving the score still at 9-14 on 64 minutes.

Portsmouth then lost Stewart Davies to a yellow card for a high tackle. Josh Howell-Williams then came on to replace Lee Chandler who was suffering from cramp. Ellingham then scored their first try when they worked the ball upfield to score out wide. This meant they now re-took the lead 16-14 with about 3 minutes left. Portsmouth then lost Beesley to a yellow card so they were now down to 13 players. Stewart Davies then came back on but Ellingham had the last say when the ran the ball down the wing to score out wide tsking the final score to 21-14 and the final whistle went with a victory to the home side.

Whilst the Portsmouth defence held up well, especially in the first half, they just couldn’t get their attack going consistantly. When they did the backs looked dangerous but it just wasn’t as it had been in their last 2 wins which was very frustrating. The did manage to gain 1 bonus point but that was scant reward for what might have been.
The result sees them slip down to 5th place on 52 points, with Gosport & Fareham in 4th place on 55 points. They played Bognor and won 30-0.
Next week they play Gosport who they beat at their ground recently so that promises to be a fiesty affair.