Portsmouth fall at the last in entertaining opening-day battle on the road at Andover

Gareth Richards spoke of his frustration as Portsmouth failed to hold on and claim victory in their London 3 South West opener at Andover on Saturday.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 6:11 pm
Ant Fooks bagged a try in Portsmouth's opening-day defeat at Andover. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 250621-18)

Dan Perry's try had handed the visitors a three-point advantage heading into the closing stages, only for the hosts to snatch a dramatic victory as they came away 31-27 winners on the opening-day.

Portsmouth head coach Richards admitted his side showed some 'naivety' in the final exchanges and were made to pay for it.

And he was left with a feeling of frustration at not being able to come away victorious in his long-awaited first competitive fixture in charge of the club.

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Richards said: ‘It was slightly frustrating because I thought we’d just about put ourselves in a position to go and win the game with about four or five minutes left.

‘I think you rue your chances. We didn’t play as much rugby as I’d have liked to, we didn’t manage the game particularly well from start to finish, our understanding of how to put that game away probably showed a little bit of naivety on our behalf.

‘It was frustrating that we were in a position to win that game and through our own mismanagement of that last bit of the game, we just allowed them to keep putting pressure on us.’

It was a meeting which swung either way throughout with Connor Chalton's early try for Portsmouth soon cancelled out as they trailed 14-5 at the interval.

Lee Chandler's penalty clawed back some points for the visitors before Andover soon just had a one-point lead at 14-13 when Ant Fooks went over.

Portsmouth then went 20-17 ahead 10 minutes from time with Alisdair MacDonald grabbing their third try.

But the drama was just beginning as Andover retook the lead with a converted try before Dan Perry looked to have won it for Richards' men, going over for a bonus-point fourth try with minutes remaining.

There was to be one final late twist, though, with the visitors succumbing to Andover's persistent pressure to eventually lose out 31-27.