Portsmouth fall at final hurdle as Seahawks retain cup

A Seahawk player leads with a high arm as he attempts to prevent a HMNB Portsmouth forward stealing possession during the Royal Navy Rugby Cup final at Burnaby Road

A Seahawk player leads with a high arm as he attempts to prevent a HMNB Portsmouth forward stealing possession during the Royal Navy Rugby Cup final at Burnaby Road

Tom Blackburn helps Havant to put the pressure on CS Rugby 1663 at Hooks Lane Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant get the job done in thriller

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HMNB Portsmouth were unable to produce an upset in the Royal Navy Rugby Cup final as holders HMS Seahawk retained the prestigious trophy at Burnaby Road.

Seahawk, from Culdrose in Cornwall, went into Wednesday night’s showpiece as overwhelming favourites and produced a dominant display to seal an emphatic 43-8 victory at the home of navy rugby.

Portsmouth, who caused an upset in the semi-finals – beating last year’s runners-up HMS Sultan to prevent a repeat of the 2011 final – were unable to make home advantage count.

And the eastern section winners gave themselves an early mountain to climb when they fell behind straight from kick-off.

A Portsmouth fumble presented Seahawk with an attacking scrummage which Dave Pascoe collected, before powering over the line to register the first points of the evening.

Matt Horton converted to give the visitors an early seven-point lead.

The hosts then gave away a string of penalties, resulting in a Seahawk lineout deep in Portsmouth’s half.

A catch and drive by the reigning champions then presented back-row Ben Priddey with possession at the back of a driving maul.

Seahawk’s pack proved unstoppable, and a converted try later, the western section winners had stormed into a 14-0 lead.

Portsmouth came straight back from the restart, with Tom Davies converting a penalty as the hosts registered their first points of the floodlit contest.

But as they threatened a comeback, Seahawk reasserted their dominance.

The influential Pascoe was proving a handful, and from a maul he attacked the blind side, creating space for Aaron Hunt to score an unconverted try.

The penalty count was increasing against Portsmouth and eventually the referee lost his patience, reducing the green & red shirts to 14 men for 10 minutes.

And the trophy holders capitalised on the extra man, with Priddey finding a clear path to the try line for his second score.

It wasn’t long before a dropped ball from the home side was scooped up by black & yellow hands as Jack Horner raced away for a converted try, as Seahawk took a commanding 31-3 half-time lead.

The second half started as the first had finished, with Seahawk going over the Portsmouth try-line through Paul Saberton.

The hosts’ set-piece was under continuous pressure and a strike against the head of a Seahawk player allowed Robert MacIntyre a fortuitous try which was calmly converted by Horton.

Bird and Rod Morton then came on for Portsmouth in a bid to try and stop the points flow.

Seahawk responded by replacing Priddey and Lowe with Guy Pallett and John Court.

Portsmouth then sensed a consolation try could be on the cards as the opposition changes caused some gaps to appear in their defence.

And at the death, one final flurry from battling Portsmouth was rewarded with a try as Jones raised a cheer for the hearty souls who had stayed until the bitter end.

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