Gosport & Fareham vs Portsmouth, Saturday 24th February 2024

Gosport & Fareham vs Portsmouth, Saturday 24th February 2024

By Jim Dixon

Portsmouth travelled to Gosport for this re-arranged fixture from 9th.December due to a waterlogged pitch. Elliott Worrell made a welcome return in the 2nd row after a lengthy injury spell and Stuart Davies had to withdraw due to illness and his place was taken by Dan Gates in the centre.

Gosport got the game underway and from a Gareth Davies clearance they took play deep into the Portsmouth half. A kick through by Gosport nearly resulted in a try but fortunately quick cover from Portsmouth saw them touch down first. Portsmouth were unable to make inroads up field and eventually Gosport crossed for the first try of the match giving them a 5 – 0 lead with about 10 minutes gone. Gosport had a chance to increase their lead with a penalty but the kick went wide.

With both sides vying for territory gain Portsmouth winger Leo Wall showed good strength with a run but eventually Gosport regained possession and took play back upfield. Tom Sanderson and Connor Charlton combined well to take the ball back into the opposition half and the ball was passed to No.8 Beesley who dummied his way over to score out wide taking the score to 5 – 5 with about 30 minutes on the clock.

Liam Avis then came on to replace Fooks in the front row and Dan Spencer also came on to replace Lee Chandler at No.7. Portsmouth then lost Worrall to a yellow card. An attacking move from Portsmouth came to nothing when the final pass got knocked on. Gosport kicked upfield and as the ball went into touch the half time whistle went with the teams level on 5 all.

Portsmouth started the second half still with Worrall in the bin. Connor Charlton also came off to be replaced by Josh Howell-Williams on the wing. Portsmouth set up a good attack and with the ball passed to Wall on the 10 metre line he made a strong run breaking tackles on his way to the try line as he touched down out wide, Davies was on target with the conversion and they now led 5 – 12. Gosport started to exert pressure and Portsmouth found themselves having to defend. They then lost Davies with a leg injury so Chandler went back on to take the 10 slot. From a 5 metre lineout Gosport took the ball and crossed for a try taking the score to 10 -12. with 55 minutes on the clock.

Portsmouth were still having to defend, as Gosport set up a series of attacks, one of which resulted in a Gosport try scored out wide and giving them the lead at 15 – 12 on 65 minutes. This seemed to wake Portsmouth up and a series of attacks by the visitors saw them get into the Gosport 22. A penalty to Portsmouth just outside the Gosport 10 metre line saw Sanderson line up a kick at goal which neatly dissected the posts taking the score to 15 – 15. With the scores now level Portsmouth saw the opportunity to take the lead with about 13 minutes still to go. From another Portsmouth attack the ball found its way to Leo Wall and he produced another strong run. An infringement by Gosport saw them lose a player to a yellow card and gave Portsmouth a penalty kick. Sanderson was again on target and Portsmouth retook the lead 15 – 18.

A touch kick clearance by Portsmouth saw the whistle go, signalling the end of the match, with a pleasing victory to the visitors. This was a very satisfying win for Portsmouth in what was a times was a fiesty derby encounter as is always the case when these two teams meet. Ollie Simpson again showed improvement in his pace and made some good inroads. Beesley was also pretty dominant with ball in hand although Gosport did manage to slow him down on occasions. The forwards again performed well. It was also rather satisfying to score a try when down to 14 players.

This win sees Portsmouth move up to 5th place on 41 points, Next weeks opponents are Bognor. This should be a home match but when the sides last met the Bognor pitch was unplayable so the venues where swapped round. Portsmouth lost that game rather heavily so will no doubt be looking for revenge. Bognor lost to Trojans today 39 – 18. They are in 9th place. Portsmouth 2nds also had a very good win today against Overton 1’s 19-33. No mean feat, as Overton are currently in 3rd place in Counties 3, Portsmouth 2’s have now moved up to 7th.