Elated Portsmouth celebrate county cup win over Gosport

Portsmouth celebrate
Portsmouth celebrate
Reuben Knight finds space to run in one of Havant's nine tries. Picture: Neil Marshall (180422-190)

Knight: We’ll be back

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PORTSMOUTH defeated favourites Gosport & Fareham to lift the Hampshire Cup on home territory at Rugby Camp.

All the points came in the first half, as Ian Chandler’s men recorded a 16-6 success.

It was a fitting way to crown a tough season for Portsmouth in London two south west.

And Chandler – who is standing down from his post in the summer to have a 12-month break – was thrilled to bank the trophy.

He said: ‘It is no more than the players deserve for their hard work this season.

‘We were probably the better side on the day.

‘Every one of the players was prepared to put their body on the line.

‘It is a young team, learning all the time and they are going to get even better.

‘We knew where Gosport’s strengths were and our defence was magnificent all afternoon.

‘To be Hampshire champions for the first time is a big achievement for them.’

Portsmouth began like a train and scored the opening try in quick time.

Gosport kicked off and, from the resulting ruck, the ball was hoisted upfield, where it bounced perfectly for chasing full-back Curtis Barnes.

The teenager beat two defenders and his searing pace took him 30 yards to the line.

As expected, London one south side Gosport hit back.

They gained a 6-5 lead with two Josh Whitehead penalties.

Gosport, however, made what proved to be a critical mistake to gift Portsmouth a second try.

They allowed a missed Andy Barnes penalty to bounce in their in-goal area.

The alert Curtis Barnes outjumped a defender to knock the ball down for Dan Neville to claim the try.

An Andy Barnes penalty on the stroke of half-time stretched Portsmouth’s lead.

The tide turned when the hosts had to play the opening 10 minutes of the second half with 14 men .

It looked ominous for the home side when hooker Greg Houlihan was ordered to the sin-bin.

Gosport laid seige for 20 minutes but a determined Portsmouth defence kept them out.

Once they had weathered that storm, Portsmouth never looked like surrendering their lead.

It was a blow for Gosport who had been looking to continue their improving form.

‘It is a disappointing day in the office,’ said coach Scott Ashley.

‘They came out of the blocks a lot quicker than we did and our players are gutted.

‘Both their tries were soft and they were what decided it.

‘Portsmouth were a lot hungrier than we were, though we improved a lot in the second half.’

Ashley now faces the task of lifting his players for their crucial London one south game against Dover at Gosport Park next weekend.

They will be needing a win to keep their hopes of avoiding the drop alive.

Portsmouth: C Barnes, Duffus, A Barnes, L Chandler, Gee, Neville, O’Conor, Sargent, Hoolihan, Hankey, Giquel, Richardson, Farmer, Long. Replacements: Cutting, I French, Lamont, J Crabb, Fookes, Burgess-Kelly, Gates.

Gosport & Fareham: Thorne, G Jones, Wayne Dugan, J Whitehead, Veiteve, Foster, Wes Dugan, Burton, Clark, M Jones, Roberts, Pollard, Shepherd, Wood, Thompson. Replacements: D Whitehead, Burns, Field, Cleary, Duncombe, McRoberts, Madigan