Portsmouth RFC 2XV 18-8 Ventnor RFC 1XV Sat 10 December 2022 Match Report
This match represented another disappointing result for Ventnor which masked some of the positive progress the team is making.
With further disruptions due to unavailability, illness and a growing injury list, the Islanders travelled with players having to slot into unaccustomed positions and this was a factor in the slow start made. Weak defence on the blindside allowed Portsmouth RFC to score early on after which Ventnor settled down and were on the front foot for much of the first half.
Adam Pratt, skipper Lewis Jones and Ben Savill provided their customary dominance in the front row and took multiple balls against the head. Thanks to the skill of Harry Colson at no 8, Ventnor kept the ball in at the back several times and were unlucky not to get more than the single scrum penalty that was awarded.
Lewis Morton was imperious in the lineout and had a storming game where his ubiquitous tackling and pressure on the ball was a stand-out throughout. He was backed up by Joel Walton – playing for the first time in the back row – whose willingness to do the hard yards was outstanding.
The link between forwards and backs took some time to gel, especially since Ed Blake was playing out of position at scrumhalf and under the weather.
However, Fergus Kenny was able to get his three quarters moving where Ben Soutter was impressive, especially because the Portsmouth defence consistently lined up offside.
Twenty minutes in, Sam Lines, at fullback, made ground, linked with Jake Babington and – thanks to pressure from Cory Turner – won a penalty that Kenny slotted.
At 7 – 3, Ventnor were back in the game.
However, the next score summed up the visitors’ habit of self-harm when a penalty failed to make touch, Portsmouth advanced and then won a penalty of their own. A raking kick saw the home team set up a lineout close to Ventnor’s tryline, a maul was formed and their winger scored wide out.
At this point Turner who had broken a finger early on in the game but had bravely battled on, had to leave the field and was replaced by the ever-willing George Collett – who was not entirely happy to find himself standing out on the wing!
Ventnor turned round for the second half 10 – 3 down but were soon on the front foot again. There was quite a bit of niggle in the match with Portsmouth players not adverse to be clumsy with their studs and it boiled over when their scrumhalf took objection to a tackle by Babington. The referee was unsighted and decided to give BOTH players a yellow card which was extremely harsh on the Ventnor player.
Ventnor’s bad luck continued when Portsmouth were then awarded a penalty on the visitors’ 22 meter line. The referee was still addressing the players and several Portsmouth players were standing well offside when the Portsmouth flyhalf took a quick tap penalty and scampered over the line. The score was allowed to stand and Ventnor were now down 15 – 3. Undaunted, they came back strongly.
Andy Teague and his second-row partner Jason Coltham were exceptional in this part of the game as their fitness began to pay dividends and their work rate resulted in a penalty that Kenny kicked for a lineout on half way.
Morton took a clean catch and his pack drove him upfield and infield at such a rate that two Portsmouth players attempting to drag the maul down were literally spat out of the back. When the maul was stopped thirty metres up the pitch, Blake took the ball on and skilfully offloaded to Jones who barrelled over for the try.
After a very quiet game due to illness, George Finan came into his own late on with a couple of destructive runs and a second try was denied when the ball was deemed to have been held up over the line. With time running out, a late penalty by Portsmouth put the game beyond reach with a final score of 18 – 3.
Team: Savill, Jones (capt), Pratt, Teague, Coltham, Walton, L.Morton, Colson, E.Blake, Kenny, Turner, Soutter, Babington, Finan, Lines. Sub: Collett
Coaches: Jason Evans, Fergus Kenny and Clive Cardwell-Hill.
Match Report: James Morton
For more information, please contact JAMES MORTON, Hon Club Secretary, Ventnor RFC
T: 07901 938 317
The fixtures are correct as of the date of the time of publication and are given in good faith. E & OE. All fixtures are subject to change or cancellation at short notice.