Rugby correspondent, William Payne, reports on another week of injury and loss for the beleaguered Portsmouth RFC.
Last week saw Portsmouth welcome 7th place London Exiles, a team they had previously defeated 17-20 in a hard-fought game, but this PRFC were facing some challenges. The team were without 3 of their best: Darren Crabb with a shoulder injury, Stewart Davies with a leg injury and Curtis Barnes, who has been advised to take 6 months off rugby due to the serious head injury he picked up the previous week.
From the kick-off, Portsmouth started well, but the Exiles managed to convert a break away try, making it 7-0 within 7 minutes.
After the restart, the Portsmouth pack managed to dominate in the Exile’s half, seeing Jackson Clark go over, and making it 5-7 after the missed conversion and 14 minutes played.
But before they had a chance to get into their stride, injury struck the Portsmouth team again. Luke Richardson was hit in the face from a high tackle – missed somehow by the official – and Jack Easterbrook came on as the replacement.
Excellent defence from the Exiles saw them keep Pompey out, and they managed to turn that effective back line into a prominent attack, scoring in the 25th and the 32nd minute, making it 5-17 after missing both conversions.
The best the Portsmouth team managed to deliver in the rest of the half was a penalty converted by Morgan, making it 8-17 at the end.
Although a recognised risk of the game, it’s a tragedy for a player when injured playing the sport they love, and in recent weeks it seems as though Portsmouth can’t seem to get a break from such injuries. Although the depth of the squad shone through this week, with excellent replacements being made, Portsmouth would once again have to dig deep in the second half.
The team started well at 4 minutes in as Morgan converted a penalty, closing the gap to 11-17.
But the Exiles bounced straight back to score their 4th (bonus point) try, and after a successful conversion the score stood at 11-24, at 7 minutes in.
Simon Morgan followed with a well-worked try and though he was tackled, managed to get back on his feet and go over, making it 16-24 after a missed kick.
As a result of some poor decision making from Portsmouth, at 23 minutes in Exiles managed to capitalise and extend their lead to 16-29. Even though Portsmouth kept pressing on, this remained the final score at close of play. The team’s misfortune with recent injuries has affected their ability to hold together good play or to set properly at defence.
Following on from this week’s result, Portsmouth stay at 9th in the table on 32 points, with Exiles moving up to 5th place. Effingham and Leatherhead n0w sit in 10th, just 8 points behind Pompey. The next league tie is in two weeks’ time when Portsmouth play Twickenham.
Next week Portsmouth will travel to Charlton Park for the Intermediate Cup semi-final. A coach has been arranged with capacity to take supporters, so make sure to get down and support the lads. In the meantime, best wishes from the S&C team to all the players recovering from injuries this week.