Portsmouth vs Gosport & Fareham, Saturday 20th April, Papa John Cup – 2nd round

Portsmouth vs Gosport & Fareham, Saturday 20th April, Papa John Cup – 2nd round

This is the third meeting this season between these two teams. At present it stands at 1 victory each (League matches) so the winner of this Cup match will have the bragging rights. The squad Portsmouth put out today contains several Colts, among which is this year’s Captain and fly half Hywel Gronow. His father is Matt Gronow, former 1st XV winger and prolific try scorer remembered best by the older Club members.

Portsmouth got the game underway and Gosport soon set out their intentions with a series of attacks on the Portsmouth try line. However good defence kept them at bay. Gradually, Portsmouth began to work their way upfield and were soon setting up attacks of their own. As so often happens, the team that defends for a period then sets up an attack that results in a try. Following a penalty against Gosport for a high tackle Portsmouth kicked to touch and gained a 5 metre lineout. This results in a good catch and drive which sees Portsmouth score the first try of the match through No.8 Matt Hoban. The conversion by Lee Chandler hit the post and bounced back out so the score was 5-0 with about 20 minutes gone.

With the game swinging between the 22’s Portsmouth then lost scrum half Harry Drew with a recurrance of a previous injury to his knee. His place was taken by Matt Higgins. A penalty against Portsmouth saw Gosport kick to touch giving them a lineout close to the Portsmouth try line. Pressure from Gosport eventually saw them cross for their first try taking the score to 5-5 after about 30 minutes. Adam Parks-Dare then gave way to Liam Avis who took his place in the front row. A penalty from almost in front of the Portsmouth posts gave Gosport a chance to take the lead but the kick went wide.

A penalty against Gosport gave the home side a good attacking opportunity and it was Liam Avis, making a welcome return after a rib injury, who crossed for their second try, this time converted by Chandler and giving Portsmouth a 12-5 advantage, Just as half time was approaching Gosport hit back with an unconverted try taking the score to 12-10. The half time whistle went shortly after.

The second half started with Portsmouth making some changes. Matt Pilbeam came on at fullback to replace Brad Jewer who moved to the wing to replace Connor Charlton who came off. Liam Glazebrook came off to be replaced by Dan Spencer on the back row. Shortly after Lee Chandler came off to be replaced by Matt Hoban and then Portsmouth lost Bryn Rainford to a yellow card for a dangerous tackle.

Taking advantage of Portsmouth being down to 14 players Gosport,from a penalty, set up a 5m lineout and drove over for their third try, which was converted, taking the score to 12-17 with about 65 minutes gone. It was then Gosport’s turn to have a player yellow carded which turned out to be former Portsmouth player Tim Snowden. Matt Higgins then came off to be replaced by Dan gates who had come off earlier. He replaced Sam Olie who moved to scrum half and Gates returned to the centre.

With both teams vying for territory it was Portsmouth who gained the upper hand and managed to set up a forward drive which resulted in the scoring a try through Matt Hoban. Matt Pilbeam took the conversion and that put the home side in front at 19-17. The game got even more intense when Gosport were awarded a penalty which they converted gving them a 19-20 lead. Vinnie Jefferies then came on to replace Bryn Rainford who had served his 10 minutes but wasn’t coming back on.

With about 9 minutes left the game was getting very tense with both sides trying to gain the upper hand. Gosport had a chance to retake the lead when they intercepted a pass but the player couldn’t hold the ball and it bounced out of his grasp. Eventually it was left to Portsmouth’s No.10 Hywel Gronow to take the game by the scruff off its neck as he made a great break around his 22 and showed great pace as he raced away from the defenders. He then lost his balance when his studs got caught in the grass and he fell to the ground. He was able to fall on his back looking for support which arrived in the form of Brad Jewer who had been following him, he was able to pass the ball to him and Jewer raced away from oncoming opponents to score under the posts. Undoubtedly the try of the match. With Matt Pilbeam on target with the kick, Portsmouth took the lead 26-20 and the final whistle went as the ball crossed the cross bar – much to the delight of Portsmouth players and supporters alike. This had been a typical fiesty derby /cup match with neither side giving any quarter.
The result of this win is a trip to Eastbourne for their next match this coming Saturday.

Overheard from a Portsmouth supporter standing behind the home side replacement bench, “That must be the worst set of haircuts ever seen!” reference to the colts and former colts waiting to go on.

On a more personal note, I would like to thank Keith Harrington for operating the score board for me for a few years. Unfortunately he is now unable to carry on doing this due to health problems and not as some suspect due to the barracking from the balcony!. Graham Medland helped me out for todays game but as he also arranges the lunches it is not really a viable option. Therefore I am asking for a volunteer to carry out this small but important task for the new season. It only involves putting up the score as I put out everything before the game and clear it all away after. I await a flood of offers!.