Portsmouth vs Eastleigh, Saturday 25th February, Counties 1 Hampshire , rearranged match

Portsmouth vs Eastleigh, Saturday 25th February, Counties 1 Hampshire , rearranged match

Portsmouth 38 – 17 Eastleigh

Match report by Jim Dixon

On a rather chilly blustery day Portsmouth had to make one or two changes as this was originally a blank weekend and some players had made other arrangements.  This re-arranged fixture was caused by the game being postponed in January due to weather conditions.

Eastleigh got proceedings underway and Portsmouth showed their intent with a great run by Finn Parry who took the ball into Eastleigh’s half of the pitch involving Max Clark and Ollie Simpson . The move was eventually stopped after Portsmouth were penalised for not releasing after the tackle.  All the pressure was coming from Portsmouth and eventually they scored through Anthony Fooks following a good move involving Aaron Beesley and Finn Parry.  Morgans conversion was true and the score was 7 – 0.  Portsmouth had a chance to increase the lead but the penalty kick by Morgan was just wide.  With Portsmouth still exerting pressure they managed to string a good passing move across the field which saw Brad Atkins cross close to the posts for their second try. Again Morgan was on target and the score was now 14 –  0.   Jashan Solanki was next to score when they  ran almost the length of the pitch with good inter-passing and again Morgan added the extras taking the score to 21 – 0.  Aaron Beesley, who had been making a nuisance of himself,  as far as Eastleigh were concerned, then had to leave the field for treatment to his back.  He was replaced by Greg Hoolihan who went to No.6 with Ollie Simpson going to No.8.  Eastleigh were gradually getting a foothold in  the game and they made progress into the Portsmouth half.  From a run by Simpson as he was tackled he turned his ankle over and had to leave the field so Beesley came back.  After a period of pressure Eastleigh managed to cross for a try following a drive through their scrum which was giving Portsmouth a few problems. The converson was successful and the score was now 21-7 as the half time whistle went shortly after.

Portsmouth started the second half in much the same way they had the first.  From a touch kick by Portsmouth, Eastleigh had a line out on their 10 metre line.  A good tackle by Portsmouth saw Eastleigh knock the ball on giving them a scrum. From the scrum a great break by Aaron Beesley saw him make 15-20 metres before being tackled into touch. An Eastleigh line out saw them take the ball upfield and another penalty against Portsmouth saw them kick for touch giving them a line out close to the Portsmouth 10 metre line.  Eastleigh were now playing with a bit more confidence following their try just on half time. They spun the ball out from the line out and crossed for their second try near the touch line.  The conversion missed and the score was now 21-12. Portsmouth  then lost Ollie Bowles with an injury to his wrist and he was replaced by Jordan Cracknell.  Portsmouth were under constant pressure at scrum time, often winning the ball going backwards but Beesley was still able to collect the ball and make good ground going forward.  More pressure from Eastleigh kept Portsmouth pinned in their half and only good defensive work kept them out.  More injury woes for Portsmouth followed when Jashan Solanki had to be helped from the field with what looked to be a serious ankle injury.   He was replaced by Alfie Wigley. he went to the wing and Tim Rollett took the vacant full back berth.  A series of penalties against Portsmouth didn’t help their cause and it certainly gave Eastleigh a good foothold close to the home side’s try line. Eventually the pressure told and despite some good tackles Eastleigh scored their 3rd try in the far corner. The conversion missed but the score was now a rather concerning 21-17.  A bit too close for comfort.  This seemed to suddenly wake Portsmouth up and they certainly raised their game , taking play into Eastleigh’s half.  A cross kick by Portsmouth was gathered by Max Clarke who made good ground before being driven over the line for Portsmouth’s 4th.try. Morgan couldn’t convert but the score was now 26 – 17.  This also gave them a valuable bonus point.  Jordan Cracknell then scored his very first try for Portsmouth 1’s. The conversion missed and the score was now a more comfortable 31 – 17.  Portsmouth then scored probably their best try of the match with a move that started deep in their 22 by Beesley and he made good ground before passing to Max Clarke who in turn carried on upfield before passing to Sam Olie who still had work to do as he beat defenders to score their 6th.try. Gareth Davies took over the kicking duties and his kick was on target taking the score to 38 – 17 and the final whistle went 

Portsmouth were again guilty of conceding too many penalties which helped keep Eastleigh in the hunt for a while in the second half. At least there were no yellow cards for either team.  Portsmouth certainly lost their way for a while in the second half but at least they managed to get back on track.  Tom Sanderson at scrum half had yet again another good performance but the man of the match was undoubtedly No.8 Aaron Beesley. His rampaging runs always made good ground and his ability to take the ball from a scrum going backwards and then make progress upfield was a joy to watch.

This win sees Portsmouth move back up to 7th in the league on 34 points, only 2 points ahead of Bournemouth..

Next week Portsmouth travel to Alton in another game that they will want to do better in than their last encounter. Winchester had a HWO against Alton.

Portsmouth 2nd’s. also had a good win away against Gosport & Fareham 12-26. The 3rds. lost a friendly against Fareham Nomads.