Portsmouth triumph in battle at Burnaby

Portsmouth beat US Portsmouth 36-0 at Burnaby Road Picture : Habibur Rahman

Portsmouth grabbed the local rugby bragging rights with a powerful 36-0 win against United Services Portsmouth in the first round of the Gales HSB Hampshire Bowl.

The two sides played out an entertaining affair in front of a packed house at Burnaby Road on Friday night.

Although Portsmouth were the worthy winners, the final scoreline belies the brave performance of the home side.

In the end, though, the greater pace, power and experience of the London Three south west side told.

Services refused to let their heads drop, however, tackling hard to came back at Portsmouth in the later stages of the game.

The hosts’ player-coach, Rich Neil, saluted the efforts and bravery of his team.

He said: ‘It was a good spectacle of rugby from both teams.

‘In front of a big crowd it showed that the game is fighting fit in the area.

‘I thought we were dominant for big spells in the opening 20 minutes but tiny mistakes cost us.

‘You can’t make those mistakes playing a team like Portsmouth who play in a league above because you know that you will get punished.

‘If we had got a score in the first 10 minutes then that might have changed the game.

‘We weren’t precise enough when we had our chances.

‘In the second half when we gave ourselves a bit more time then we looked so more dangerous.

‘Our defence was magnificent, though, getting up off our feet quickly and working hard.

‘I felt we did ourselves proud with our work-rate and went toe to toe with them for long periods.’

United Services started on the front foot and a perfectly-timed pass in midfield put centre Richard Higgins arrowing through the heart of the Portsmouth defence.

But a knock-on in the tackle inside the Portsmouth 22 ended the threat.

An evenly-fought opening 20 minutes ended scoreless, yet in the later stages of the first half Portsmouth suddenly upped the tempo.

Helped by the bullocking drives of prop-forward Adam Parks, they established attacking positions which they soon exploited.

Tries from Rhys Bowen, Curtis Barnes and Darren Leggot saw the visitors establish a 19-0 lead by the interval.

In the second half Portsmouth winger Tom Whitehouse lit up proceedings with a run from his own 22 almost to the Services try line

The away side added two more converted tries and a penalty in the second half.

Services, inspired by a sterling performance from Neil, however finished strongly.

When the final whistle came they were hammering away at the Portsmouth line but a deserved score eluded them.

Visiting coach Jim Pearce accepted his side were made to work for their win.

‘United Services raised their game but eventually we wore them down,’ said Pearce.

‘By the end of the first half we had a bit of a stranglehold on the game.

‘We mixed it up a bit and we reacted quickly to pounce on their mistakes.’

US Portsmouth: Jennings, Atkins, Mikurenda, Robinson, Atkins, Hunter, Smith B, Rolfe, Pullen, Davies L, Neil R, Young, Shaw, Porter, Geoghegan.Rep: Gilliland, Bowles, Neil B, King, Reed, Cantwell, Masters.

Portsmouth: Davies S, Barnes C, Ovens, Caucau, Whitehouse, Richards, Duffus, Parks, Houlihan, French, Leggot, Giquel, Fitzpatrick, Brock, Bowen. Rep: Cracknell, Parry, Morgan, Farnes, Chandler

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