Portsmouth vs Winchester, Saturday 28th January 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Portsmouth vs Winchester, Saturday 28th January 2023, Counties Hampshire 1 League

Portsmouth 20 – 47 Winchester

Match Report by Jim Dixon

At long last rugby is back!

After the Christmas break and 3 games postponed due to either waterlogged pitches or frozen grounds we are hopefully back to normal.

Portsmouth got the game underway and Winchester gathered and kicked down field. Ollie Simpson caught the ball and made ground before passing to Jashan Solanki who made inroads into the Opposition half. A penalty against Winchester saw Portsmouth kick to touch. From the lineout Portsmouth spun the ball wide but lost possession enabling Winchester to take the ball back into the Portsmouth half. Play was then stopped as flyhalf Lee Chandler who had been caught in a double tackle, was lying prone on the ground with the Portsmouth physio attending. Eventually he was able to get up and was helped off the pitch. Cam McGuigan came on to fullback with Solanki moving to No. 10. Shortly after this Portsmouth then lost Bryn Rainford with a shoulder injury. His place was taken by Aaron Beesley. All this inside the first 5 minutes. Max Clarke moved from the back row to the second row. After a period of good defence with Portsmouth defending their try line, Winchester managed to move the ball to the backs and they scored near the touch line. The try was converted and they led 0 – 7 after about 10 minutes. It was then the turn of Portsmouth to go on the attack and eventually Solanki crossed for their first try which Simon Morgan converted taking the score to 7 apiece. Winchester were soon back on the attack and Portsmouth then lost Aaron Beesley to a yellow card. Shortly after this prop Rhys Bowen had to leave the field with back spasms. Finn Parry who is normally a prop but was playing second row today moved to the front row and with Rainford coming back on he went to the second row. All this inside the first 25 minutes. Winchester then scored their 2nd try which was not converted to retake the lead 7 – 12 with just inder 30 minutes played. A penalty against Portsmouth for offside saw Winchester increase their lead to 7 – 15. This was followed by a penalty to Portsmouth from just close to the 10 metre line which Morgan again converted closing the gap to 10 – 15 and the half time whistle went shortly after,

The second half started with Rainford having to leave the field with more shoulder problems. Brad Atkins took his place. Winchester were getting a bit more dominant with their backs causing Portsmouth problems and they soon added to their score with an unconverted try taking the score 10 – 20. Another penalty to Portsmouth again saw Morgan convert his kick from just inside the halfway line to take the score to 13 – 20. A poor kick from the home side saw Winchester stretch their lead to 13 – 25 with their 4th. unconverted try. With Portsmouth defending heroically pressure told in the end as Winchester added to their score with another unconverted try taking the score to 13 – 30. With the game in the last quarter Winchester were now in full flow and with Portsmouth tiring after some good and prolonged defensive work Winchester scored another unconverted try making the score 13 – 35. A further unconverted try took the score to 13 – 40. A good run by Aaron Beesley saw him take the ball from his 22 to the opposition 22 before he was stopped by a good tackle. Portsmouth were still able to amount their own attack and they managed to work the ball upfield with Greg Hoolihan crossing for their 3rd. try. Morgan’s conversion was good and the score now stood at 20 – 40. Winchester had the final say with a converted try close to the posts taking the score to 20 – 47. In the closing minutes Portsmouth desperately tried to get a least a loosing bonus point 4th.try but to no avail as the final whistle went. Despite the score line Portsmouth showed some good attacking movements and harried and defended well but the early injuries disrupted the flow somewhat. That is in no way a critisism of the bench players who all played their part well. A fall off in intensity due to some heavy defending and a lack of fitness in the final 20 minutes were contributary factors.
Next week should have been a rest week but they now have the re-arranged fixture against Andover to play. Portsmouth will no doubt be hoping that todays injuries will be cleared up in time for this fixture. Portmouth2’s suffered a similar fate losing away to Winchester 2’s 43 – 5 but Portsmouth 3’s recorded another good win against Eastleigh 3’s 40 – 14. Portsmouth still remain in 7th. place in the league table on 29 points. Jersey are still top and unbeaten after beating Alton 84 – 0. Winchester are still in second place having only lost twice this season.