Portsmouth maintain their winning start to 2017 after beating Effingham and Leatherhead away, 12-26. S&C rugby correspondent, William Payne, reports.
With Captain Luke Richardson out due to work commitments and no 9 Sam Ellis unavailable due to injury, new addition to the first XV Jack Easterbrook started the match, with Simon Morgan filling in at the scrum half.
After another excellent start from Portsmouth, brilliant defensive play saw Effingham knock on, giving a scrum to Portsmouth that resulted in Curtis Barnes hitting a great line and going over after a well-worked back’s move. Good conversion, 0-7 to Pompey.
Effingham weren’t prepared to just roll over, however, and after 8 minutes, they were back on the attack, scoring near the posts and making it 7-7.
From bad to better, an excellent cross field kick from Morgan saw winger Luke Peters go over in the corner. Another good kick from Morgan saw Portsmouth back in the lead, 7-14 after 14 minutes.
24 minutes in and No.10 Matt Farnes intercepted a pass and ran it over, making the score 7-19 to Portsmouth. Unfortunately, the conversion attempt was missed.
The score stayed the same for the rest of the half, with Portsmouth piling on the pressure at the break down and the lineout.
Overall a promising start for Portsmouth in the first half: they dominated in the pack and showed exquisite handling in the back line. At the second half the Pompey crowd were praying for the team to bring the same passion, fight and dive to the second half, wrap it up and get the crucial points.
One of the crucial issues in any rugby match is the state of the pitch, especially when the weather is bad. Yet even in this week’s boggy pitch conditions Effingham managed to close the gap to just 7 points after missing the conversion. Score: 12-19 Portsmouth.
23 minutes in to the half Portsmouth unfortunately lost its winger Whitehouse to a yellow card after a controversial ‘deliberate knock on’ decision.
While weather conditions continued to affect the play, Portsmouth managed to win a scrum, and drove Effingham back 30 metres, resulting in a penalty for Portsmouth. However, Portsmouth knocked the ball on when trying to pick it up from the scrum.
The dominating force in the match was undoubtedly the Portsmouth Pack, who managed once again to out-scrum Effingham. Portsmouth applied the pressure and the ball darted out at the side, leaving Fooks free to dive on it and win that all important bonus point. Morgan was ready and on target once again to make the score 12-26 with 10 only minutes
Riddled with injuries that forced a series of team shuffles throughout the game, Portsmouth were definitely on the back foot this week to Effingham’s attack. However, a sturdy defence kicked the ball clear, ending the game at 12-26 to Portsmouth RFC.
Portsmouth remain in 9th place, 12 points clear of Andover in 10th, yet the 4 teams above Portsmouth are all divided by 4 points. It’s a promising outlook – if Pompey can stay in this winning form.
Next week I’ll be looking back on the forthcoming match against Old Colfeians in the 3rd round of the Intermediate Cup. OC’s are currently second in London South East 2. Kick off is at 2pm – be there and support the team to victory! We’ll see you there.