STUDENT Matt Peters answered an early-morning SOS from Portsmouth but was unable to prevent defeat to county rivals Basingstoke at Rugby Camp.
The Exeter University student was still in bed on Saturday morning when he got the call asking him to make the 131-mile trip back to take his place in the forwards.
But Peters’ late dash was not enough to help the club avoid a 28-3 London south one loss to the early pacesetters.
‘The fact that Matt was prepared to come all that way at the last minute shows what spirit there is in the club,’ said coach Ian Chandler.
‘It is a long way to come to play number eight behind a beaten pack.
‘We are paying the price for a lack of continuity at the moment because of injuries and unavailability.
‘A number of players dropped out late in the week and we had to make a major reshuffle.
‘It was our fourth different set of half-backs this season and our four main line-out jumpers were also missing.
‘That showed against a very good Basingstoke team.
‘Matt came in and, to be fair, gave it everything. He always does.’
Basingstoke made a strong start to the game.
For the first 25 minutes Portsmouth were only offered scraps of possession.
The visitors established a 16-0 lead with three penalties and a converted try, before Portsmouth began to get a foothold in the game.
Alex Duffus knocked over a 31st-minute penalty but the key moment came on the stroke of half-time.
Portsmouth squandered a four-man overlap and Dan Sargent was held up just short of the line, though most thought he got over.
A score then would have given the home side a big lift.
Instead, Basingstoke took charge in the second half, with two more converted tries .
‘Basingstoke had a very good outside-half who controlled the game for them,’ said Chandler.
‘He kept putting us on the back foot and prevented us from getting a platform.
‘A few years ago, Portsmouth would have buckled under the pressure but, positively, this side kept battling.
‘They tackled and defended for their lives.
‘It was probably the best defensive performance I have seen from a Portsmouth team in all the years I have been here.
‘They all put their bodies on the line and we only missed one or two tackles all game.
‘To be in our twenty-two for the majority of the second half and only concede three tries was a magnificent effort.’
As for young Peters, he was last seen heading off back to Exeter to continue his studies, probably dreaming of a lie-in next weekend.