Portsmouth v Havant 2, Saturday 21st October 2021, Counties 1 Hampshire

Portsmouth v Havant 2, Saturday 21st October 2021, Counties 1 Hampshire

Match report by Jim Dixon

Portsmouth 18 – 11 Havant 2

This is a truly local derby with Havant holding the bragging rights following 2 wins last season.  However, this is a different side to last year with a much more cohesive feel about it. They also communicate well with each other on the pitch and are playing much more as a team, supporting each other.   Havant won the toss and kicked off. Portsmouth managed to knock on giving Havant a scrum just outside the Portsmouth 22.  For the next 10 -15 minutes Portsmouth were forced to defend but this they did very well, keeping their line intact.  Portsmouth were then able to set up an attack of their own and through some good handling in the backs took the game into the Havant 22 with a good run by Kallen Wilke which was only stopped by a desperate last minute tackle. It was now Portsmouth’s turn to pressurise their opponents.  Eventually that pressure was turned into points when prop Liam Avis was driven over the line for the first score of the match,  a difficult kick from out wide , by Simon Morgan gave Portsmouth a 7  –  0 lead with about 15 minutes gone.  Havant soon hit back however with a try of their own which they were unable to convert so Portsmouth’s lead was now 7 –  5.  Portsmouth were then penalised just outside their 22 giving Havant a kick at goal just to the side of the posts.  The kick was successful and they now took the lead 7  –  8. Liam Avis and Lee Chandler then came off to be replaced by Adam Parks-Dare and Aaron Beesley.  Pressure from Portsmouth saw them put in a good touch kick just on the 5 metre line and they managed to steal the ball from Havant and drove for the try line with Anthony Fooks claiming the try.  Morgan’s kick just missed but they re-took the lead 12  –  8.  A good run by 2nd row Finn Parry saw Portsmouth take the ball back into the Havant half.  Havant set up another attack but good Portsmouth defence forced a knock on by Havant   From the scrum Portsmouth won good ball which Morgan put into touch and the half time whistle went.

The second half got underway with Portsmouth kicking off and rain starting.  A brilliant run by debut making Matt Austin, who had been getting  good reviews from the 2nds., who then passed to Parry who carried on the move.  They got penalised for not releasing after the tackle. Harvey Field then came of and was replaced by Harry Drew,  Drew went to No.9 and Sanderson went to No.15  with Josh Howell-Williams moving from 15 to 14.  From a lineout Portsmouth made excellent ground and then set up a drive to the try line but as they crossed for a try the Ref deemed the ball to have been knocked forward. 

From a scrum Havant were penalised for offside. Portsmouth elected a kick at goal although the position was quite far out,  between the halfway line and their 10metre line  but Morgan was again on target, which now took the score to 15  –  8.  Shortly after this Portsmouth had a further opportunity to extend their lead with another penalty from a similar distance but out near the touch line but the kick just shaded the near post.   Portsmouth were now enjoying domination in the Havant half with most of the play being contained there.  An excellent touch kick by Morgan resulted in a 50/22 result giving Portsmouth a line on the 5 metre line.  With the rain now pretty steady the ball was getting like a bar of soap and unfortunately they lost possession  giving Havant the chance to clear their line.  More pressure from Portsmouth eventually saw them win another penalty from almost in front of the posts. Morgan duly obliged and their lead was now 18  –  8.  With handling now a bit of a lottery Havant made a rare excursion onto the Portsmouth half but good defensive work kept them out.  As Portsmouth ran the ball out of the Havant 22 they were penalised for crossing giving Havant a fairly straightforward penalty kick which they converted making the score 18  –  11.  Portsmouth soon set up another attack with winger Connor Charlton racing down the touch line but he was tackled with the ball going into touch and the final whistle went with a very much deserved victory to Portsmouth.  At the start they seemed to be giving a bit too much respect to Havant but once that initial 10 – 15 minutes had gone they soon realised they had nothing to fear and for large parts of the first half and most of the second half they won the territorial battle with some ease.  The second row pairing of Finn Parry and Matt Austin went well with both making good inroads with ball in hand.  Prop Phil Gilliland had another great game and deservedly won the MoM presented by Mo Twells.  The backs are also playing very well and are setting up good combinations.  The team spirit throughout is very good to see.  

This weekend’s results sees the top 5 places unchanged from last week. Portsmouth are now just 1 point behind Havant.  Petersfield beat Gosport & Fareham 43  –  15,  Andover beat New Milton  38  –  3. 

Next week there are no games which hopefully will give those players who are carrying a few niggles a chance of recovery,  Portsmouth’s next game will be on 4th. November away to New Milton.  Don’t forget that kick off will be at 2.30pm as the clocks go back next weekend.