Portsmouth v Eastleigh, Saturday 7th October 2023, Counties 1 Hampshire

Portsmouth v Eastleigh, Saturday 7th October 2023, Counties 1 Hampshire

Portsmouth 31 – 22 Eastleigh

Match Report by Jim Dixon

It was an ideal day for a game of rugby, the sun was out, it was warm with only a gentle breeze blowing down the pitch. There was 1 enforced change to the selected side. Tawanda Matipano had to drop out due to family reasons. His place was taken by Will Dalziel who was moved from the wing to fullback. Harvey Field came off the bench to play on the wing and Brad Jewer was moved from the 2’s to the 1’s bench.
We were all expecting to see a continuation of the last two performances with slick passing and good interplay between backs and forwards but, alas, that didn’t happen. What we had was a rather disjointed performance for the most part with passes not always going to hand or not being held by the recipient. In part this was down to Eastleigh’s defence which was very good. Eastleigh were first on the scoreboard with a converted try after about 6 minutes. Portsmouth were able to reduce that lead with a well taken penalty from between the 10 metre and half way line but into a breeze. Morgan was on target so the score was now 3 – 7. Eastleigh were soon back on the attack and scored their second try out wide but the conversion missed so the score was now 3 – 12. The score was really due to some poor tackling. As the game progressed towards half time Eastleigh set up another attack which resulted in the third converted try taking the lead to 3 – 19. Again a result of poor or no tackling. A good run by prop Adam Parks-Dare saw Portsmouth take play into the visitors 22. A penalty against Eastleigh saw Morgan kick for touch giving Portsmouth a line-out 5 metres from the try line. Portsmouth secured the throw-in and set up a good catch and drive resulting in their first try scored by hooker Bradley Atkins. The score now stood at 10 – 19 after Morgans successful conversion. Aaron Beesley then came on to replace Dan Spencer on the back row. The half time whistle went shortly after.

The second half started with Will Dalziel coming off to be replaced by Brad Jewer. Adam Parks-Dare also come off to be replaced by Liam Avis in the front row. Portsmouth were now beginning to play the style of rugby we wanted to see and a good run took them deep into the visitors half. Eastleigh then got penalised for not releasing after the tackle. From the resultant line-out Portsmouth lost possession but regained it to win another line-out. This time they were penalised for a crooked throw. A penalty against Portsmouth saw Eastleigh increase their lead to 10 – 22 after about 50 minutes. Portsmouth had a great opportunity to close the gap when a good run by Connor Charlton was carried on by Beesley but his final pass was not held and a golden chance went begging, A cross kick by Morgan just failed to find its target giving Eastleigh a 22 drop out. Another chance was missed when Portsmouth lost a line-out close to the Eastleigh try line, enabling them to clear their line. A penalty to Portsmouth saw Morgan place a good touch kick and this time they managed to hold on to the ball which was spun wide and across the pitch with some good inter-passing resulting eventually in Brad Jewer touching down close to the touch line. Morgan was again on target and the score was now 17 – 22. Most of the play was now being carried out in the Eastleigh half. From another Portsmouth line-out Beesley took the ball and crashed through the defence to score close to the posts giving Morgan a straightforward conversion. The score was now 24 – 22 and Portsmouth now had their noses in front, but only just. Lee Chandler then came off with cramp so Will Dalziel went back on in his place. Another good attack by Portsmouth resulted with the ball in Connor Charlton’s hand and he raced through to score out wide. Morgan was again on target and the lead was now 31- 22 and a bonus point for the 4th.try. It also took Eastleigh’s chance of a loosing bonus point away from them. There was still 2 or 3 minutes left so Portsmouth had to be aware not to give any penalties away and make sure their defence was solid. They managed to hold out to secure their 3rd win on the bounce and their 3rd. bonus point win.
Portsmouth played much better in the second half, denying Eastleigh territory and the ball for good periods of play but they did leave at least 3 tries out there which mustn’t happen next week. No.9 Tom Sanderson was awarded MoM by Mo Twells who is sponsoring the award on home matches.
This win sees them slip to 4th place on 15 points as Andover jump ahead of them on points difference but also on 15 points. Andover played Alton and ran out impressive winners 21 – 83. Portsmouth will certainly need to play much better than this next week if they want to keep their winning run going. It is obviously going to be a very hard fought game. Gosport & Fareham beat Bournemouth 2’s 40 – 23 and now move into 2nd place behind Petersfield.

MoM Tom Sanderson