The University of Portsmouth’s men’s 2nd team finished their season with a gutting 25-26 defeat at the hands of Sussex’s first team. An unconverted final try sealed the fate of the home side.
Portsmouth wingers, Andy Till and Lewis Miller, were the livewires of the match and looked dangerous every time they were in possession. The opening exchanges between the wingers released the home sides centres, but an early turnover kept the advantage with the visitors.
Portsmouth’s first attack came within the first three minutes, with front row Krishna Gurung bursting through the defensive line on the 22 metre line. Unfortunately, the support wasn’t there for him and a powerful Sussex ruck secured the ball, before the fly half booted it down the pitch.
A great defensive boot found its way to Portsmouth’s five metre line, with an attacking force on his back, Miller cagily approached the bouncing ball and retrieved it inside his own try area.
Gingerly approaching his 22, Miller then unleashed a devastating turn of pace, dashing 70 metres to the oppositions 22 metre line and causing havoc.
The distance gained by Miller allowed Portsmouth to break quickly from the line and good recycling of the ball by the backs got the ball to Till on the wing who crashed over the line for 5-0.
From the restart Sussex gained vital territory, and the next five minutes of play followed a similar pattern. Sussex’s pack was stronger, but Portsmouth’s scrum was far more disciplined and the game slowed down due to the visitor’s poor finding.
Eventually Sussex remembered how to stay upright in a scrum and the ball was quickly passed out to Will Berry on the left wing.
Retrieving it unexpectedly, he was tackled into touch on Portsmouth’s 22 metre line. The resulting line out went to Sussex’s first man and produced a colossal maul. The heaving mass got closer and closer to the try line until it eventually collapsed five metres out. Sussex were now back into the game after the following try.
At the tail end of the first half Matt Austin increased Portsmouth’s lead to 10-7 when he helped his team to turn the ball over then run twenty metres to the try line.
Five minutes from half time Sussex came forward once more with a dangerous attack on the right wing, but Miller and Berry did well to tackle the opposing winger then centre to stop the visitors scoring.
With time almost up in the first half, the home side broke through the defensive line once more and Till went over for his second try of the day.
The first half then finished 15-7 to the home side. In windy conditions Portsmouth kicker Will Berry was having a torrid tie going for the posts, especially when all the points had been scored in the corner.
Sussex were loosing players left right and centre through injury with Portsmouth being the more physical side, and struggled to come out for the second half with a full team.
The home side began the second half how they left the first, with a good few exchanges to frustrate the visitors. However, Sussex quickly got the ball back and looked like a new team coming forward in their first attack.
On the 45th minute Sussex were well and truly back in the game following a try from a line out. The fly half converted from underneath the posts to put the visitors within one point of Portsmouth’s lead.
“The next ten minutes of play proved to be disastrous for Portsmouth as they dropped twelve points to the visitors”
Portsmouth were quick to respond and Till brought up a hat trick of tries two minutes later, scoring as a result of fantastic pressure from the home team.
The next ten minutes of play proved to be disastrous for Portsmouth as they dropped twelve points to the visitors. Firstly, on the 55th minute from a scrum, Sussex’s scrum half released his blind side winger for 20-19. Portsmouth players then watched as the fly half kept his 100% kicking record and converted from a tricky position.
Then three minutes later Sussex were over the try line again. A succession of missed tackles gifted Sussex with another try. However, this time the fly half did not convert and the score remained 26-20.
With five minutes to play, Portsmouth knew a converted try would win it for them. A re-ignited side stepped bac onto the pitch and good recycling from the backs made sure that Portsmouth gained sufficient ground.
The home sides forward then used their power to push Mike Rodgers over the try line for 26-25. Fans and players alike then watched on as Will Berry agonisingly shanked the ball to the left of the goalposts.
With two minutes to play, there was still time for Portsmouth. A well timed grubber from Berry released Till along the touchline and into the opposing teams 22. Gurung was then released and made another five metres. The fight back was well and truly on. The time then went dead and five metres from the line Till was forced out into touch and the game finished 26-25 to the visitors.
The result unfortunately relegated Portsmouth from the South eastern 2A BUCS league. However, as the table reflects, Portsmouth were the only 2nds team in the league so did well to give Sussex a run for their money.