Last week saw Pompey back in form with an excellent 46-8 win over 10th place Andover. S&C rugby correspondent William Payne reports.
Something big must have happened for the PRFC team over the Christmas break, as they burst into 2017 in style with a clear victory for their first game of the year.
Just 8 minutes after kick off, Portsmouth had a scrum that saw the ball moved to No.10 Matt Farnes, who chipped the ball over the top to see Prop Jackson Clark bundle over the line. Simon Morgan with the conversion, it was 7-0 Portsmouth.
14 minutes in, and after a successful line out, Portsmouth managed to drive over with Captain Luke Richardson getting his first try of the game and of 2017. A missed conversion, 12-0 Portsmouth. Just 5 minutes later, at the 19 minute mark, Simon Morgan calmly slotted home a penalty, bringing the score to 15-0 Portsmouth.
After 26 minutes Andover fought back, managing to force their way through to make it 15-5 after the missed conversion. Typical of the team, the penalty spurred Andover on to play a more attacking ball, and on the 32nd minute, Pompey gave away a penalty allowing Andover to convert – making the score 15-8.
At halftime Portsmouth went into the changing rooms with their heads held high. Even though Andover summoned the spirit to fight back at the end of the half, Pompey had undoubtedly dominated in attacking play. The second half was lined up to be a good one.
At halftime we spoke to the boys about what we do well and how if we do that we’d get on top.
Jim Pearce, 1st XV Assistant Coach
Straight from the start Andover had a player yellow carded for a high tackle, and from the resultant penalty Simon Morgan converted making it 18-8 after 48 minutes.
After a shuffle around in the back line seeing Morgan go to 9, Anthony Fooks come on in the backrow, and Tom Whitehouse go on to the wing, Portsmouth had plenty of fresh legs to wrap the game up.
The changes had a good effect with excellent back play leading to a try out wide by Luke Peters, and with an excellent touch line kick from Morgan the score was 25-8 after 55 minutes.
Only 5 minutes later, Luke Peters was on the end of another well-placed kick to go over for his second try of the match, and with another conversion it was 32-8 to Portsmouth. As the try was Portsmouth’s fourth, they secured the crucial bonus point.
After good attacking play from Andover, Portsmouth managed to turn the ball over, seeing Whitehouse intercept a pass and run through to score. Good conversion, and the score at 39-8 after 65 minutes.
In the final play of the game, Portsmouth used up the last fuel in the tank, and a well worked line out saw Whitehouse go over for his second. As we’ve come to expect from him, another successful kick from Morgan saw the game end at 46-8 to Portsmouth.
Jim Pearce, the 1st XV Assistant Coach said, “At halftime we spoke to the boys about what we do well and how if we do that we’d get on top”. The team more than matched their forwards at the set piece, he concluded, which allowed the backs to use the ball to get in behind them.
The team’s strategy clearly paid off, because this match represents a great start to the new year from Portsmouth RFC, not only getting an excellent win but also the bonus point against a tour opposition.
This result leaves Portsmouth in 9th place on 26 points, 8 points clear of 10th place Andover.
Next week’s Rugby Read will look back on Portsmouth RFC against Effingham and Leatherhead, who are currently in 11th place. A tough opponent but if Portsmouth play like this again, another win will be coming their way.