Usually, achieving a bonus point away to the team placed 2nd in the league would be a great achievement, but when you had a poor start and then dominated for the rest of the match, it’s a little harder to take. This was the story for Portsmouth RFC on Saturday the 10th. Will Payne reports.
Once again, poor conditions hindered Pompey’s play, with the first 25 minutes dominated by the Reigatians (ORs), who played a 15-man attacking game through a dominating scrum, lineout and breakdown.
Just 25 minutes into the game, the ORs were already 17-0 points up with 3 well worked tries and a conversion, with Portsmouth giving away 7 penalties in a poor start.
The resilience of the Portsmouth XV started to shine through though, with a touch of brilliance coming from No.2 Greg Hoolihan, who produced a fine grubber kick to put Alex Duffs in. After a nice offload back to Hoolihan, Portsmouth were 5 points to the good. Sam Ellis made the conversion, and just before the break, the score was 17-7.
The remaining first half passed without anything remarkable, with the unfortunate exception of Captain Luke Richardson being sin-binned for a high tackle.
Something special must have been said at the half time break, because Portsmouth came out of the gates firing and dominating the start of the second half. After a good line-out take from Darren Crabb, a drive and two phases later, winger Curtis Barnes went over for a try in the corner making it 17-12 at 47 minutes played.
Curtis Barnes then produced a touch of class with a nice attempt at a chip and chase. As it was knocked down just short of the line, the referee awarded a penalty try, and after the successful conversion Portsmouth were in the lead, 17-19.
With only 4 minutes to go of normal time, Dan Gates was yellow carded for killing the ball just after making an excellent cover tackle to deny the ORs a try in the corner.
Yet even though Portsmouth had put in a good shift for the second half, the ORs managed to kick the resultant penalty on the 80th minute, making it 20-19 going into injury time.
Due to the sheer frustration between both forward packs, a fight broke out, which allowed ORs another penalty. Successful kick, final score: 23-19 to Old Reigatians.
Another unfortunate loss for Pompey, meaning that the loss tally now goes up to 7. Portsmouth are still in 9th place, 5 points off 8th place London Exiles. Even though a loss is never good, Pompey take away the bonus point, and key knowledge on where they need to improve their game, which can definitely be fixed during training.
This Saturday Portsmouth travel to play 6th place Winchester, who won the first meeting 23-22. More to follow.