Portsmouth finish with 13 players but battle to hard-fought victory against Andover

Portsmouth opened up the second half of their London 3 South West campaign with a hard-fought 12-3 win against Andover at Rugby Camp.

Sunday, 12th January 2020, 4:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th January 2020, 5:41 pm
Benjamin Smith lunges for the ball. Picture: Vernon Nash (110120-027)

In a fractious affair, both teams had players sent off with the hosts finishing with 13 men after Matt Farnes and Lewis Simmons dismissed.

Senior coach Neil McRoberts was pleased with the way his team coped with the physical challenge from their fellow Hampshire rivals.

‘It wasn't a game for the purists but for us it was a very good win,’ said McRoberts.

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Rhys Bowen on the ball. Picture: Vernon Nash (110120-023)

‘The game reflected the fact that it was our first game in a month.

‘Also, we must have played at least an hour of the game with less than 15 men because of yellow cards.

‘The final scoreline flattered our opponents and it looked a lot closer than it actually was.

‘Overall, though, we applied ourselves well and showed that we can grind out an ugly league win when we need to.

Robert Lamberton kicks a conversion. Picture: Vernon Nash (110120-016)

‘Our pitch was heavy and in places very soft underfoot.

‘That meant our wide players weren't able to exploit their pace and get into full flow.

‘When they did, in areas where the surface was better, they caused Andover a lot of problems.’

The home side were forced into a late change with new recruit Dan Fleming making his debut in the second row.

Mark Ovens grabbed a try in Portsmouth's win over Andover. Picture: Vernon Nash (110120-014)

After winning the toss, the hosts elected to play into a strong wind and had some early defending to do.

The defence stood firm and Portsmouth broke out to open the scoring.

Farnes took a quick penalty on the Andover 22 and passed to Simmons, who kicked ahead.

The bounce evaded the chasing Simmons but full-back Mark Ovens, following up, claimed the try.

Andover reduced the deficit with a penalty before half-time.

With the wind behind them, Portsmouth added a second score at the start of the second half.

Tim Snowden pulled off an interception on the halfway line and put centre Rob Lamberton in for the try.

Ben Smith was on target with the tricky conversion.

The game became more fractious and, following a bit of a skirmish, Farnes was sent off for an alleged punch.

Despite being a man down, the home side maintained a territorial advantage for the rest of the game.

Before the end, both teams had players red carded with Simmons becoming the second home player dismissed.

‘Perhaps we were guilty of a little indiscipline but it was more a case of not adapting to areas that are being rigorously refereed,’ said McRoberts.

‘It was important that we bounced back from recent defeats with a win.

‘We have set ourselves a target of winning all of our remaining home games.’