Player power key as Portsmouth step up a level

Anthony Fooks crashes through the Weybridge Vandals
Anthony Fooks crashes through the Weybridge Vandals
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Joel Knight. Picture: Neil Marshall

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A CASE of player power helped Portsmouth get back to winning ways with a 41-15 London three south west win against Weybridge Vandals at Rugby Camp.

After an indifferent first half Portsmouth led 24-15 at half-time, a scoreline they felt was too close for comfort.

Director of rugby Jim Pearce was impressed by his players’ reaction.

He said: ‘A few players who don’t normally speak had their say at half-time. They felt they had to say something.

‘The feeling was they and other members of the side hadn’t given it 100 per cent.

‘They recognised the need to raise their game.

‘It is good the players recognised that themselves.

‘The result was they went out and scored 17 unanswered points.

‘It was important to get back to winning ways after our defeat the previous week.’

In typical Portsmouth fashion they started well before letting things slip.

This allowed the visitors to get themselves back into the game.

Rob Gicquel put Portsmouth on the scoreboard in the fourth minute with a catch-and-drive try from a line-out.

Further tries from winger Luke Simmons, converted by Lee Chandler, and Gareth Fitzpatrick then put the hosts in the driving seat.

‘We relaxed and let them get into it with a few missed first-up tackles,’ added Pearce.

‘They got in behind us and were good enough to exploit it.

‘The try that we got right on half-time was very important to us.’

Vandals scored two tries, helped by a yellow card for Portsmouth’s Rhys Bowen.

Anthony Fooks though responded with a try for Portsmouth.

The heart to heart during half-time had the desired effect.

Gareth Fitzpatrick notched his second try of the game, Ryan Wilkie crashed over and Fooks also claimed another try.

‘We shut them out completely in the second half,’ said Pearce.

‘Our forwards dominated the set-pieces and we looked dangerous when we spun the ball out wide.

‘We asked the boys to step up and they did.

‘There was a lot more cohesion in evidence than in our previous game.

‘The players also seemed to have a better understanding about what each was trying to do.

‘All in all the players answered a few of the questions from the previous game.

‘There are still a few defensive questions that need answering.’

Portsmouth face Warlingham at Rugby Camp in the RFU Intermediate Cup on Saturday.

A week later they travel to second-placed Old Cranleighans for what is set up to be a very important contest in the league.