Portsmouth chief lauds troops after miraculous win

Simon Morgan is tackled. Picture: Mick Young (151341-06)
Simon Morgan is tackled. Picture: Mick Young (151341-06)
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Portsmouth produced a powerful second-half display to beat Twickenham 23-21 in their London two south west contest at Rugby Camp.

It was a victory achieved through a gutsy performance against the odds.

The injury-ravaged hosts trailed 21-8 at the break after playing with the wind behind them in the opening 40 minutes.

Director of rugby Nigel Morgan lauded the bravery shown by his side to turn the game around.

He said: ‘We were decimated by injuries before the game – particularly in the three-quarters.

‘One of our wingers, Tom Whitehouse, had not played or trained since a charity game in August.

‘It was so bad the only replacements we had were forwards.

‘To make matters worse we then lost three more players to injury in the first half.

‘It meant we had two forwards playing in the backs and it looked pretty ominous for us at half-time.

‘But we went back out and produced an outstanding performance – particularly in the forwards.

‘We took control of the game and for long periods laid siege to the Twickenham line.

‘It was pleasing to see our senior players stand up and lead the way.

‘It took a lot of guts and fight to do what they did.

‘Every one of them can be proud of what they achieved.’

Portsmouth started in a sloppy fashioned and after 14 minutes found themselves trailing 14-3.

The tries came as a result of weak tackling and poor defence.

Problems started to mount as Portsmouth lost full-back Curtis Barnes, centre Lee Chandler and flanker Rhys Bowen to injury.

It meant captain Luke Richardson, who has played most of his rugby at number eight, found himself at centre.

Darren Crabb provided some respite with a try in the corner on 23 minutes.

Twickenham, however, exploited a mistake in the Portsmouth defence to take a sizeable lead into the break.

It was a totally different story in the second half, though.

On 50 minutes, Whitehouse ran in an interception try from 40 yards.

Ten minutes later the Rugby Camp side moved to within a point of the visitors when Damian Gibbs forced his way over and Simon Morgan added the conversion.

With the game entering the final minute, the forwards set up a platform for Simon Morgan to keep his nerve and fire over a drop kick to win the game.

‘It is an important win and one we needed to maintain our momentum,’ said Nigel Morgan.

‘I see no reason why, if we can come through this difficult period of injuries, we can’t push up towards the top end of the league.

‘That is what we did last season. We certainly have the quality and potential to achieve that.’