A late Surrey try dealt Portsmouth a devastating blow as they came out on the wrong end of an enthralling 30-26 encounter.
The opening exchanges were a scrappy affair, but a positive start from the Portsmouth pack gave the home side the early ascendency. A long spell of possession in the Surrey half drew the visitors offside, and full back Peter Jecks was able to put the penalty through the posts to put Portsmouth up 3-0.
It didn’t take long for Portsmouth to extend their lead; outside centre Joe Youngs was the first to react to a loose ball on the halfway line, with the line in sight he was tap tackled, but was still able to offload the ball to his centre partner Harry O’Brien, who went over to score. Jecks added a difficult conversion to move the score to 10-0. The sides exchanged penalties before the half, as they switched sides with the scores sitting at 13-3 in favour of the home team.
Surrey came out firing in the second half, scoring an unconverted try, and then kicking a penalty quickly after to close the gap to two points. A quick reply was needed for Portsmouth, and that is what they got as another Jecks penalty wrestled some momentum back for the hosts.
The Portsmouth forwards were dominant from set pieces all afternoon, and it was a strong driving maul which set up the next score. A lineout on the halfway line was driven 20 metres by the Portsmouth pack. A strong angle from winger Lloyd Williams allowed him to burst through the Surrey defence once the ball was spread to the backs. After committing the final man Williams passed the ball out to winger Ryan Cunningham who went over in the corner, extending the lead to 21-11.
The game was spun on its head soon after however, as two quick fire tries from Surrey put the visitors ahead for the first time. With time running out, and trailing by four points, Portsmouth piled on the pressure. Good ball retention and hard running put them on the doorstep of the Surrey try line. The Surrey defence was eventually forced to concede a penalty one metre out, and the ball was handed back to the dominant Portsmouth forwards.
A five metre scrum rolled relentlessly towards the try line, and with the Surrey back line narrowing in, the ball was moved out to Charles Jackson who touched the ball down to put Portsmouth back in front once again.
Moving into the final minute the score stood at 26-25 to Portsmouth, but there was still time for Surrey to break Portsmouth hearts, as with the last play of the game the visitors went over once more to steal a 30-26 win.