Rolfe collects try treble as new-look US Portsmouth RFC continue winning start in Hampshire 1

New-look US Portsmouth extended their winning start to life back in competitive rugby.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 10:59 am
USP's Shackleton Keiditsch, left, in action against Ventnor. Picture: Keith Woodland

They claimed a second successive Hampshire 1 home win, Billy Rolfe bagging a hat-trick of tries in a 27-10 victory against Ventnor.

US have had to restart league action two levels below London 3 South West, the league they played in when they were forced to withdraw due to a lack of players in November 2019.

Life in a succession of lockdowns was spent recruiting new faces, and 15 players have made their 1st XV debuts in the two Hampshire 1 matches so far.

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Three of them appeared for the first time against Ventnor - openside flanker, Kini Dakuliga, hooker Will Dixon and left winger Shackleton Keiditsch.

US, due to the nature of their club, have always fielded a selection of players currently serving in the Forces. But only two featured against Ventnor - Dakuliga and scrum half Cam Cummings.

‘It was a really entertaining game,’ said USP official Joel Crook. ‘We were very happy with our performance considering it was only our second game.’

In front of a ‘bumper’ crowd of around 100, the hosts took an 11th minute lead against Ventnor, working a line out to perfection which allowed Cummings to go over in the corner for a 5-0 lead.

Ventnor replied with a penalty and the quick pace of the game continued with only a great covering tackle preventing club stalwart Gareth Guyll from marking his return with a try.

US kept the pressure on and Billy Rolfe was on hand to cross the whitewash for his first try on 20 minutes.

On the stroke of half-time, Rolfe pushed his way over for another try to make it 17-3.

The second half started as the first finished with another exciting phase of play allowing Bailey Barnes to run the ball in from the halfway line.

The hosts continued pressing and Rolfe completed his hat-trick with another trademark pushover try, stretching the lead to 27-3.

After Cummings was sinbinned for a deliberate knock on, Ventnor grabbed a consolation converted try.

USP are one of only three clubs in the 12-division league to have won their opening two games – Fawley and Fareham Heathens are the others.

USP’s first away game next weekend sees them travel the very short distance to Rugby Camp to face Portsmouth 2nds, who won 19-5 at the Isle of Wight on Saturday.

‘Hopefully as it’s a derby we’ll get a good crowd,’ said Crook.

‘We’ve had two bumper attendances so far - bigger than some we used to get.

‘We want to keep the feelgood factor going, keep the positivity going… we want to help grow the local rugby community.’