Lack of discipline puts Portsmouth under pressure

Ben Dudley admits Portsmouth are in danger of being dragged into a London two south west relegation dogfight after their 27-19 defeat at Winchester on Saturday.

Monday, 19th December 2016, 7:30 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:58 pm
Portsmouth head coach Ben Dudley. Photo by Habibur Rahman (161263-45)

The latest defeat leaves the Rugby Camp outfit fourth from bottom – but just three points above Hampshire rivals Andover.

Dudley felt the loss at Winchester was typical of Portsmouth’s season.

‘It is the seventh game this season we have lost by eight points or less,’ said the head coach.

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‘Ultimately, a lack of discipline – particularly in the first half – cost us.

‘We took too long to work out the officials’ interpretation at the breakdown and made basic mistakes.

‘After working hard to get ourselves into good positions we failed to make it count.

‘Just when we needed to maintain the pressure and go through the phases we would gift the possession back to Winchester.

‘Having said that, we also scored some very good tries.’

Portsmouth conceded a try early on only to hit back with with a well-worked effort of their own scored by Jackson Clark.

Simon Morgan added the conversion but by half-time the home side had established a 17-7 lead.

Curtis Barnes scored a fine solo try at the start of the second period to raise Portsmouth’s hopes.

But they were dashed in the next 10 minutes as Winchester stretched their lead to 27-14.

All Portsmouth could manage was a second Clark try in the final play of the game.

The conversion, which would have gained them a losing bonus point, was missed.

‘We have 10 games left and need to start winning,’ added Dudley.

‘If we don’t win our first two games in the new year – against Andover and Effingham & Leatherhead – then we will find ourselves right in the thick of it.

‘It is frustrating because we have been there or thereabouts all season.

‘For one reason or another we have not been strong enough to capitalise on our good spells.

‘We have made too many mistakes, while fitness is also an issue.’

While Portsmouth’s fears grew, United Services boosted their survival hopes as they moved out of the bottom three in London three south west with a 16-6 win over Bognor at Burnaby Road.

The victory saw the home side leapfrog their Sussex rivals out of the relegation zone.