Bonus-point win saves Portsmouth from relegation

Adam Long. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings
Adam Long. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings
Jackson Clark

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Coach Ian Chandler saluted the bravery of his Portsmouth side who defied all the odds to secure a great escape in London Two south west.

The city club picked up an unlikely 35-14 win at Old Alleynians to gain a five-point bonus-point win, which kept them up at the expense of Farnham.

Portsmouth had only scored four tries in game once all season but they managed to pull it off when it mattered most.

In a thrilling encounter it wasn’t until 10 minutes from the end that Chandler’s team grabbed the vital bonus-point try.

Forward Adam Long was the one who drove over the line and secured the crucial points.

Even then there was drama right to the finish.

The visitors needed a last-ditch try-saving tackle to make sure they didn’t get relegated.

Chandler, was delighted with the way his players took responsibility after the side lost several players to injury before the match.

He said: ‘It was a fantastic performance and I can’t praise the effort and application of our players enough.

‘We knew before we started that we needed to do something we had not managed all season – score four tries in winning away from home.

‘In fact we had only scored four tries in a game once all season.

‘Everything was stacked up against us.

‘We had players pull out injured in the week and then lost another before the game in the warm-up.

‘During the game we lost two more but all the players took the responsibility on their shoulders

‘I couldn’t be any prouder of them than I am.’

Chris Morgan got Portsmouth off to a good start with two early penalties before the home side hit back with a converted try.

By half-time, though, a converted try by Dave Jones and another Morgan penalty gave the visitors a 16-7 lead at the break.

However, Portsmouth still had it all to do. They needed three more tries playing against the wind and up the slope in the second half.

‘We knew at half-time Farnham had already achieved what they needed but we deliberately kept it from our players,’ said Chandler.

‘If we told them they would only have panicked.’

After the restart the Portsmouth forwards continued their domination of the home pack and Matt Morgan quickly added another try from a five-yard scrum.

An Alleynians try was followed by one from Dan Gates, after a superb break from Chris Morgan.

With 15 minutes to go Portsmouth were still facing relegation but then Long took charge.

The Portsmouth forward arrived like a train to take two defenders over the line with him for the life-saving score.

If Long was a hero, so was full back Tom Cantwell, who pulled off a devastating match-winning tackle in the closing stages to deny Alleynians a vital score.

‘We were out on our feet at that stage and if Alleynians had scored they still had time to win and send us down,’ said Chandler.

‘This win means everything to the club and gives us a massive boost of confidence for the future.’