Fierce rivals the University of Southampton made the trip to Langstone to face Portsmouth men’s 1st team in a hotly anticipated derby clash.
Southampton beat their South coast rivals 65-29 in a heated fixture that the home side had difficulty staying in.
As expected from a derby match, the game started at a fierce pace with the home side dictating a lot of the play in the first ten minutes and securing the first set pieces.
Steven Gibson, in particular, was strong at the early line outs winning both Portsmouth’s line outs and turning over two of Southampton’s within the first exchanges.
Cameron Hunter had the first real chance of the game but his penalty kick went wayward in the high coastal winds.
Neither team managed to make a significant impact in the oppositions 22, thanks to fullback Cam Bruce, Southampton’s imperious attack was kept at bay in the first 15 minutes.
18 minutes in though and the visitors got the first points on the board. Southampton’s winger managed to evade Joshua McCarthy and score in the corner for 5-0. The angle was so steep though that the following kick went well wide of the mark.
Although now a try down, Steve Gibson and Ryan Munnelly continued their dominance at both Portsmouth and Southampton’s line outs.
Portsmouth got their heads back in the game but unfortunately Hunter and winger Will Woolhouse failed to link up at the next attack, gifting Southampton with a counter attack that eventually lead to the oppositions scrum.
With a heave and a unique call from the opposition, Southampton edged closer to the line. It only took the scrum half a little foot trickery to find him under the posts for 10-0.
This time at the restart Portsmouth came out with more of a plan. With ten minutes of the first half to play, Max Graham, Woolhouse and David Francis’s quick hands from the ruck eventually led to a try in the corner from Munnelly.
The game plan ordinarily would have changed to closing out the half but two late try’s from the visitors took the score to 22-5 going in to the second half.
Southampton began the second half the same way they had closed out the first, with a try. A missed tackle from Portsmouth gifted the visitors an early chance and early second half try.
With the game going away from them, Portsmouth then had a freak ten minutes. Taking advantage of a bruised home side, Southampton scored three try’s in ten minutes to make it 44-10 and put the game beyond doubt.
Following this turbulent period of play Portsmouth mounted a spirited comeback. David Francis brought up a brace of try’s moments later after some impressive recycling of the ball from the home teams backs.
As dominant as Southampton were from their restarts, Portsmouth found some of the same conviction to mount a similar effort.
A fantastically weighted kick through from Hunter found man of the moment David Francis, who instead of going over for his hat trick, popped th ball inside to the arriving Josh Lockey who then scored right under the posts.
The visitors then scored another to make it 51-24 but Portsmouth weren’t done for yet. Sam Ludwig wriggled through the defence for another pompey try; too late to make any difference in the match but enough to keep the home sides heads held high.
Southampton scored two soft try’s before the final whistle to make the final score 65-29 to the visitors.
The score line was an unfair reflection on how Portsmouth played, who may have challenged Southampton further had they kept the form of the first half an hour.
The result means that Portsmouth’s 1st team stay bottom of the BUCS South B league on 1 point, 4 points behind 6th place Bristol’s 2nd going into the 2017 half of the season.
It remains to be seen what Portsmouth have learned from the encounter and what they may change before their big clash at this years Varsity.