Portsmouth Dreadnoughts head coach Luke Head-Rapson praised his team despite defeat on the opening day of the new British America Football Association National League season.
The side put in a strong performance in their 24-14 south west division loss at the hands of Bournemouth Bobcats at Chapel Gate.
A gutsy second half was not enough as the Dreadnoughts fell just short.
But the scoreline was a lot closer than the 64-0 margin of defeat inflicted in their last match-up, with Head-Rapson pleased with the progress being made by his side.
‘I am disappointed with the final result, although I don’t think it reflected how well we played in the game,’ he said.
‘It was unfortunate they got a late score but, on the whole, I am incredibly proud of how well our guys did, particularly on defence.
‘I thought the game went well, and every time we have played Bournemouth the score has been closer than the last.
‘It was a good learning experience but I am disappointed with the result.’
The Dreadnoughts defence started the game strongly, holding firm for the first few drives.
Defensive lineman Jack Hancock made a sack for third and 10, but confusion after a flag was thrown saw the Bobcats take the lead.
A long throw and extra point saw the hosts lead 7-0 – but the Dreadnoughts did not let the early touchdown affect them.
Good play by defensive backs Adam Cleaver and Joe Clulow saw the offence take the field, yet they failed to capitalise on their position.
Early in the second quarter, the visiting defence held strong, managing to stop the Bobcats scoring a field goal with a block. But the home side went further ahead with their next drive, after the Dreadnoughts offence gave up two points for being tackled in their own end zone.
The first half ended strongly for the Portsmouth side, with quarterback Stu Rees throwing a touchdown pass to wide-receiver John Cowen.
The half ended with the Dreadnoughts trailing 9-6.
The start of the third quarter saw the away side take the lead.
Defensive back Joe Perry returned a Bobcats kick-off with a 95-yard run to the end zone.
A catch by John Cowen saw them secure the two points, making the scoreline 14-9.
The Dreadnoughts protected their lead as the quarter went on, with defensive player Jason Brown making a sack.
But the Bobcats’ perseverance paid off with their quarterback sneaking into the end zone from the one yard line.
The extra point was good and the Bobcats took a 16-14 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats secured victory as they drove the ball down the field to score a touchdown and get the two extra points to making it 24-14.
The Dreadnoughts’ next game is against East Kent Mavericks on Sunday.