Portsmouth vs Havant 2nds, Saturday 18th February 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Portsmouth vs Havant 2nds, Saturday 18th February 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Match Report by Jim Dixon

Portsmouth 10-38 Havant 2nds

Portsmouth’s day started with a Former Players Lunch where there were just over 100 past players/current members present and a 3 course lunch, provided by the Club’s resident Chef and former player Jimmy Martin,  plus copious amounts of ale consumed meant  a very enjoyable time was had by all.

With quite a strong wind blowing down the pitch, Portsmouth found themselves playing with the wind in the first half having lost the toss.

Havant got the match underway and shortly after Gareth Davies put a good touch kick down to the Havant 22. Sam Foster managed to steal the ball but a subsequent knock on gave Havant a scrum. A penalty against Havant for not releasing the  tackled player saw Simon Morgan line up a kick at goal from just inside the 10 metre line but the kick went wide.  This was followed by another penalty against Havant for not releasing the ball after a tackle. The kick was from a similar position and this time he was on target. Portsmouth thus had a 3 – 0 lead.  Portsmouth had a further chance to extend their lead but Morgans penalty kick went wide.  A penalty against Portsmouth led to a line out for Havant and only a good defensive effort by Portsmouth kept the visitors out. Morgan then got a yellow card for not retreating from a penalty quickly enough. A quickly taken tap penalty by Havant nearly resulted in a try but a good tackle took the player into touch.  Portsmouth then stole the lineout but Havant got penalised for interfering with the jumper.  From that resultant penalty Portsmouth had a line out on the half way line but a bad throw saw Portsmouth lose the ball. Havant were able to work the ball upfield and this resulted in their first converted try giving them a 3 – 7 lead.. Another penalty against Havant saw Gareth Davies kick for touch giving Portsmouth a line out on the 22. Yet another penalty saw Davies kick for touch resulting in a line out on the Havant 5 metre line. Unfortunately a well worked move by Portsmouth came to nothing when the final pass went forward. Another good attack by Portsmouth saw Havant make an intercept and they took play back upfield. Yet another forward pass spoilt what had looked like a good move for Portsmouth.  Havant then managed their second try which was converted taking the score to 3 – 14  and this was followed by a third try under the posts for the visitors taking the score to 3 – 21 as the half time whistle went.

The second half started with Portsmouth making changes with prop Tom Smith coming off and Robbie Henwood taking his place. Shortly after Sam Foster came off to be replaced by Aaron Beesley. He went to No.8 with Elliot Worrall moving into the second row.  With Portsmouth setting up another attack again the final pass was intercepted and Havant ran through to score a converted try. The score was now 3- 28.   A penalty against Havant followed shortly after and a good touch kick from Morgan gave Portsmouth a line out just inside the Havant 22.  This was followed by another penalty kick by Morgan and this time the line out was on the 5 metre line.  A knock on by Portsmouth gave Havant a scrum but with 2 more penalties against Havant Portsmouth had a 5 metre line out.  Despite the territory advantage Portsmouth were unable to cross the line after another good passing movement saw the ball go into touch. 

Brad Atkins then had to come off with a sore back so Tom Smith went back on and Fooks went to hooker.  Yet another penalty to Portsmouth following a Havant scrum infringement at last saw them score their first try through good handling by Luke Simmonds, Sam Foster Jashan Solanki and finally Connor Charlton ran round to dot down- close to the posts, Morgans conversion was good and the score was now 10 -28.  Havant however had the last say with an unconverted try in which the ref missed a knock on, taking the score to 10- 33 and this was followed by their final score taking the score to 10 – 38.  as the final whistle went.  This was a bit surprising as only a minute or so earlier he had said there was 12 minutes remaining and Portsmouth were in the process of bringing on their final sub, Dave Vickers.   On checking it did appear that it was ended  10 minutes early and on speaking to the ref later he admitted that his watch had been playing up.

Portsmouth had plenty of territory and possession but lacked cohesion at the vital time. It did make a change however to play against a side that gave more penalties away than they usually did.  If Portsmouth  had managed to score in the early stages that might have made a difference but as the game progressed so Havant’s confidence grew. Portsmouth did battle hard and for periods on the second half they managed to camp themselves in and around the Havant 22 but just could not find a way through a good defence.  The concern now is that with Petersfield beating Eastleigh 19 -15 they have now gone above Portsmouth in the league table.  Portsmouth have now dropped 2 places to sit in 9th.place and just 1 point above Trojans. Next week sees Portsmouth at home again, this time against  Eastleigh in what could be described as a must win game.