Portsmouth turn on the style

Andy Barnes attempts to breach the Thanet defence
Andy Barnes attempts to breach the Thanet defence
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Portsmouth produced a late fightback to secure a 40-25 London one south win over Thanet Wanderers at Rugby Camp.

Heading into the final quarter, the city club trailed by nine points.

But in the final 20 minutes, they turned the game around with a purple patch of running rugby.

With both teams starting the day level on points, just above the bottom three, a close-fought encounter was always on the cards and the result was an enthralling contest.

‘It was a Jekyll & Hyde performance but we got the win we wanted,’ said Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler.

‘The only disappointment was allowing them to pick up a bonus point with a fourth try at the end.

‘I hate it when we score tries in the early minutes because we then tend to sit back and think we have already won the game.

‘By thinking it would be easy, our forwards lost their commitment and our supply of ball dried up.

‘That allowed Thanet to come back into it and score a try, so at half-time we had a one-point lead at 11-10.

‘We were far better than that and probably for the first time in four or five years I threw my toys out of the pram at half-time.

‘I don’t like to be aggressive during the interval but called the players all the names under the sun.’

The home side couldn’t have wished for a better start with Steve Gee going over for a try virtually straight from the kick-off.

Though Chandler’s team then went off the boil, two Andy Barnes penalties kept them in front at the break.

The Thanet forwards took charge at the start of the second period, though, scoring a couple of tries and leaving Portsmouth staring defeat in the face.

‘Then suddenly it all just clicked into place,’ said Chandler.

‘We scored four tries in 15 minutes with some of the most scintillating rugby I have seen at the club.

‘By spinning the ball wide and with our prop forwards staying where they were told they scored three tries with a total run-in distance of two yards.

‘It took the wind out of Thanet’s sails and all of a sudden we were 40-20 in front.

‘It shows that when we play with a self-belief, release our own shackles and players do their own jobs, I don’t think there is another side can live with us in our league.

‘You have to earn the right to play, though, and in the first hour we didn’t do that.

‘Thanet gave us a good hard lesson and we have to learn when we lack effort and commitment we will get punished.

‘Fortunately, once our forwards switched on and provided our outstanding backs with the ball it was game over.’

In the second half, Gee grabbed his second try with props Ben Cuming and Harry Cripps also getting over the line.

Portsmouth: Bion, Whitehouse, Carpenter, Richards, Gee, Barnes, O’Conor, Cuming, Hoolihan, Cripps, French, Gicquel, Brock, Long, Richardson. Replacements: Sargent, Lynch, Fraser