Festive cheer for Portsmouth coach

Action from Portsmouth's clash with Tottonians. Picture: Neil Marshall
Action from Portsmouth's clash with Tottonians. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Portsmouth gave coach Ian Chandler grounds for optimism despite losing 26-18 against London two south west leaders Tottonians at Rugby Camp.

The home side pushed the visitors all the way and narrowly missed out on collecting a bonus point.

‘If we can produce the same level of performance for the rest of the season then we will have few worries,’ said Chandler.

‘We played some good rugby and more than matched them in most areas.

‘The overall attitude of the players and their response to our situation was very encouraging.

‘We were in the game right up to the last few minutes.’

With the wind behind them in the first half, Portsmouth had established a 13-6 lead by the break.

Chris Morgan knocked over an early penalty before the home side extended their lead with the first try of the game.

Adam Long made an excellent break and, when the pass came, winger Davy Jones went over to score the try.

Morgan converted and added a penalty but Tottonians responded with a try and penalty of their own before the break.

At the start of the second half, the home side surrendered the lead when an attempt to run the ball from under their own posts broke down, resulting in a converted try for the visitors.

Portsmouth battled for the rest of the half against the wind and, although they fell further behind, never gave up.

At the death, Long scored a try from a catch-and-drive at the lineout but Morgan’s conversion kick for a bonus point narrowly missed.

‘Having players like Morgan, Will Brock, Dan Gates and Dan Neville back made a big difference,’ said Chandler.

‘They are the spine of the team and as they get match fit will be even better.

‘Our defence was much improved and apart from our one moment of madness at the start of the second half we looked secure.

‘Saturday’s performance give us a lot of hope for the future.

‘We deserved to come away with something from the game and it was just disappointing that we 

United Services maintained their nine-point lead at the top of Hampshire one with a comprehensive 62-17 win over the Isle of Wight at Burnaby Road.

A depleted Petersfield slipped to a 35-28 defeat against title-chasing Bognor at Penns Place.