Portsmouth vs Trojans, Counties Hampshire 1, Saturday 3rd December 2022

Portsmouth vs Trojans, Counties Hampshire 1, Saturday 3rd December 2022

Match Report by Jim Dixon

Portsmouth 13 – 12 Trojans

Portsmouth’s day started with a Celebration Lunch with 100 guests in honour of former player and Head Coach Roy Harris on the occasion of his 90th birthday.  The guests were made up of Club Members and Roy’s family.  Roy came from Cornwall in the 60’s to take up a temporary job with Radio Rentals for 3 weeks and he has been here ever since!

There was a more sombre moment when President Nigel Morgan spoke of Vets player and Junior Coach, John Warbrick who after coaching his age group on Sunday morning, went home and tragically collapsed and passed away.  He was only 42 years old.  Before today’s game started Portsmouth Vets and their opponents Portsmouth University,  together with members of the  Junior Club and   Portsmouth and Trojans 1st XV’s lined up to give a minutes applause in John’s memory.

If Portsmouth’s last encounter with Trojans in September was anything to go by, (a 10  –  11 win to Portsmouth)  then this was going to be of a similar nature and so it proved to be.

Portsmouth got proceedings underway with just 1 change to the selected side. Anthony Fooks had to withdraw from the team as a cut on his shin had not healed, so his place was taken by Greg Hoolihan.

After the usual exchanges in the opening minutes Portsmouth gained a lineout close to the Trojans 22.  However they managed to loose the ball and were penalised for tackling a player without the ball.  Then followed a rather bizarre moment when one minute a Portsmouth player had the ball and the next when Trojans ripped the ball out and ran from just inside the 22 to score almost unapposed.  The  conversion was successful and they led 0  –  7 with about 5 minutes on the clock.  More exchanges between the teams continued as both tried to gain territory.  Portsmouth then lost flyhalf Lee Chandler to a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Jordan Hunter, making a welcome return to Portsmouth after a period with Petersfield. Hunter went into the centre with Morgan moving to No.10.  Portsmouth were then able to string a move together with a good run by Hunter and they found themselves in the Trojans 22 for the first time in the match with about 30 minutes gone.  From a good lineout Portsmouth set up a catch and drive about 12 metres out and crossed for their first try scored by Greg Hoolihan,  Morgan was on target with the conversion and the scores were now level at 7 a-piece.  Shortly after Portsmouth made a change in the front row with Khatib coming off to be replaced by Rhys Bowen.  Portsmouth were able to set up good attacking moves but were often spoiled by either loosing possession or knocking the ball on.  The half time whistle went with the scores still level at 7 all.

The second half started and Portsmouth now had the cold easterly wind at their backs.  Portsmouth made a change at half time with Hoolihan coming off to be replaced by Olly Bowles.  Portsmouth were having to defend well to keep Trojans at bay which they managed fairly well.  However from a lineout which Trojans took quickly they managed to break the deadlock with a try wide out.  The conversion missed and Trojans now led  7  –  12.  A good attack by Portsmouth came to nothing when the final pass failed to find the receiver.  Portsmouth then made a couple of changes with hooker Brad Atkins coming of to be replaced by Hoolihan and khatib coming back on to replace Rhys Bowen who had  taken a knock to his thigh.  After some Portsmouth pressure they did manage to cross the line but were deemed to have been held up.  A yellow card to Trojans saw Portsmouth awarded a penalty which Morgan converted taking the score to 10  –  11 with about 14 minutes left. Portsmouth were taking advantage of Trojans being down to 14 but just couldn’t turn it into points,  One such moment came when Portsmouth won good ball and with nothing much on Morgan attempted a drop goal but his kick went wide.  With penalties being awarded to both sides it was Portsmouth who were awarded a kick right on half way and to the left of the posts.  Morgan took a good look and said it was worthing going for.  He lined up his kick and it Went between the uprights but only 1 touch judge put up his flag.  Everyone was now looking to the referee for his decision and without any hesitation put his arm up to signal the conversion and the final whistle went with another narrow victory to Portsmouth 13  –  12 much to the jubilation of Portsmouth players and spectators.  After the match a photo of the ball going over the cross bar proved the decision to be correct. 

If Portsmouth could cut out the penalties and keep hold of the ball at crucial times they could have secured a more convincing win.  This win sees them move back to 6th. in the league table on 28 points.  Jersey still remain top and unbeaten after victory over Havant 2’s  8  –  40. Next weeks opponents are Petersfield who beat Basingstoke 18  –  20. They are in 10th.position on 18 points.