Portsmouth vs New Milton, Saturday 3rd February 2024

Portsmouth vs New Milton, Saturday 3rd February 2024

Portsmouth welcomed New Milton to Rugby Camp and a rather cold breezy day. New Milton won the toss and elected to play with the breeze behind them. Prior to the game starting the two reams lined up in front of the Clubhouse to give a minutes applause in memory of Kevin Ricketts who sadly passed away last week.

Portsmouth kicked off and soon set up a good attacking move that involved forwards and backs alike, taking the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. Eventually it was hooker Brad Atkins who took the final pass and scored close to the posts. Gareth Davies was on target and they took a 7-0 lead. The game became a bit bogged down with neither side being able to make ground. In fact there was a short period when Portsmouth had no possession and spent time just on defence. Prop Adam Parks-Dare came off to be replaced by the evergreen Ian French. However it was New Milton who scored next with a well taken try by their winger who showed good speed to score wide out. The conversion failed and the score was now 7-5 with about 23 minutes on the clock. A good move by Portsmouth saw them move the ball upfield but as they moved into the opposition 22 the final pass went straight into touch.

Portsmouth then made another change with Lee Chandler coming off to be replaced by Dan Spencer on the back row. Spencer has been getting good reviews from the 2nds so deserved his place. Bryn Rainford stole a New Milton ball from a lineout and Portsmouth then won a penalty which saw a good touch kick give them a 5 metre line out. Portsmouth caught clean ball and set up a drive to the try line enabling No,.8 Aaron Beesley to drive over. The conversion missed and the score was now 12-5. From the restart Portsmouth set up another good attack with Beesley making good ground before of loading . Eventually the ball went to fullback Tom Sanderson who raced through to score under the posts. Davies was on target and the score was now 19-5 From the restart Dan Spencer took the ball onwards showing good leg drive as he was tackled but stayed on his feet. He managed to make ground before offloading. Eventually a New Milton tackle dislodged the ball, which went forward and the referee blew his whistle to signify the end of the first half.

The second half started with more changes to Portsmouth. Stewart Davies came on to the centre in place of Leo Wall who moved to the wing to replace Connor Charlton who came off. Portsmouth were showing domination at scrum time and they pushed New Milton off their own put in. Ian French then came off to be replaced by Adam Parks-Dare. Portsmouth were now dominating proceedings and a good run by Fooks who laid the ball back as he was tackled. The ball was then shipped on to Adam Parks-Dare who showed a good turn of speed to score Portsmouth’s 4 try giving them that important bonus point. Davies was again on target and the lead was now 26-5. From a lineout Portsmouth spun the ball across the field and eventually it was Ollie Simpson who took the final pass to score another try. The score was now 33-5 with Davies’s conversion adding the extra’s.
Portsmouth were now almost scoring at will with Lee Chandler now back on and he drove his way over. With Davies on target again the score was now 40-5 with about 8 minutes to go. From the restart New Milton set up a very good attack and got almost to the Portsmouth 5 metre line and it was only a brilliant tackle by second row Simon Pinhorne that kept them out. Portsmouth were soon back deep in New Milton territory and it was hooker Brad Atkins who scored the final try, and his second of the day, converted by Davies to take the final score to 47-5.

Credit must be given to New Milton as they stuck to their task and kept fighting all the match. They also travelled with only 15 players so had no cover for any players. Fortunately they didn’t suffer any injuries so were able to keep 15 on the field.

Simon Pinhorne is proving to be a valuable asset in the second row as he quietly but efficiently gets on with his job. The backs today worked well together and often looked dangerous in attack, Portsmouth scored 7 tries in total and 6 were converted giving a pretty good return on the afternoon’s work. This result leaves Portsmouth still in 6th place on 42 points, just 1 point behind Ellingham & Ringwood but they have a better points difference. They beat Eastleigh 24-8. which leaves Eastleigh 6 points behind Portsmouth in 7th place.

Next week we were due to play Andover but apparently they have complained to the RFU that Portsmouth didn’t offer them the first available blank Saturday. The RFU seemed to agree with them and have said the game will now be played in March. As the home team surely they should have spoken to us as well. Perhaps Andover had an ulterior motive for this request, we will never know. So next week is a blank Saturday for the 1’s. The 2’s actually travel to Andover to play their 2’s.