Services celebrate derby joy after giving up home comfort

Portsmouth's Suli Caucau. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-390)

United Services shrugged off a last-minute blow to maintain their unbeaten start in Hampshire one on Saturday.

The Bulldogs notched a 24-14 win over Fareham Heathens.

But they did so at Rugby Camp after the game was switched from their 4G pitch at HMS Temeraire for security reasons.

Services coach Rich Neil thanked Portsmouth director of rugby Jim Pearce for his help in moving the game from Burnaby Road.

‘I was on the way to the ground at midday when I saw a tweet saying the naval base was on lockdown,’ said Neil.

‘It was because the country was on critical alert following the London tube bombing in midweek.

‘I quickly got on the phone to Jim at Portsmouth and he managed to organise a pitch for us at their place.

‘Luckily Fareham Heathens were travelling by train, so it just meant they got off a few stops earlier.’

Services went on to dominate the first half – scoring three tries through Sam Masters, Tom Jennings and William Rolfe.

Heathens got a bit of momentum going at the start of the second period to hit back with a converted try of their own.

But that merely woke Services back up.

And they immediately stretched their lead with a try from second row Bruce Neil.

Heathens grabbed their second try five minutes from the end but Services saw the game out.

‘It was a much better performance than in our first game,’ added Neil.

‘We played for much longer in the game and were far more composed and patient.’

Elsewhere, Portsmouth got off the mark in London three south west with a 64-0 win over Hampshire rivals Basingstoke.

Pearce felt it was just the performance his side needed.

‘We stuck to our guns and played some free-flowing rugby,’ he said.

‘After going into a 24-0 lead by half-time, the players were able to relax in the second half.

‘We were able to open up even more.’

Portsmouth started the ball rolling after just three minutes when winger Mark Ovens collected a cornfield-kick from Basingstoke, made ground and put Suli Caucau over for a try.

Ovens scored the second himself on 19 minutes with Tom Hopkins and Andy Barnes adding further tries before half-time.

Hopkins went on to complete his hat-trick in the second period as Portsmouth coasted to an easy victory.

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