Beesley’s try double gives Portsmouth 2nds Hampshire League derby bragging rights against US Portsmouth
Aaron Beesley ended US Portsmouth’s 100 per cent start to the Hampshire 1 season and ensured Portsmouth 2nds enjoyed Portsea Island derby bragging rights.
US travelled the short distance to Rugby Camp having won their opening two matches of 2021/22. But they were unable to extend that run as Beesley’s two tries gave the hosts a 10-8 win in appalling weather conditions.
Phil Gilliland scored USP’s only try in the closing seconds, with a conversion attempt from out wide - that would have levelled the scores - subsequently missed.
In a first half of understandable handling errors, USP threatened out wide early on but, apart from a difficult missed penalty kick, chances were rare as neither side scored in the first half.
After the restart, Portsmouth continued to play the conditions well, keeping the ball tight and defending well.
After former Southsea Nomad Beesley had scored his first try, the visitors replied through a penalty from co-captain and fly half Lewis Murray.
US had only brought a squad of 16 after two late drop outs and it began to show as Portsmouth skilfully used their bench to keep players as fresh as possible.
They were rewarded after a period of pressure on the USP line resulted in a yellow card for hooker Callum Holbrook. From the resulting penalty, No 8 Beesley’s second try made it 10-3.
Portsmouth continued to look to make the numerical advantage count and remained on the attack, pushing the US defence back towards their own line. After constant pressure, US co-captain Billy Rolfe secured a fantastic turnover at a ruck on his own line to ensure the rest of the sin-bin period went scoreless.
USP team manager Joel Crook reported: ‘Considering the horrific weather, both teams should be proud of their efforts in producing a compelling game.’
Portsmouth skipper Danny Harris said: ‘Aaron played very well and there were good performances also from Tom Barker in the centre and young Brad Jewer at full back.
‘Overall, the whole team played well and I was pleased with the performance, especially considering the weather.’
Next up for second-placed USP is a clash with table-topping Fareham Heathens on October 16.