Portsmouth grind it out

Bobby Owen. Picture: Mick Young (132976-05)
Bobby Owen. Picture: Mick Young (132976-05)
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Tom Whitehouse. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-81)

Pearce fires warning to triumphant Portsmouth

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Portsmouth ground their way into the next round of the London & South East Intermediate Cup with a 15-7 success at Aylesford Bulls.

With the game played out in driving rain on a pitch that was struggling to cope with the deluge, there was little scope for expansive and attractive rugby.

But coach Ian Chandler was pleased with his troops as they adapted their game to suit the conditions to get the victory.

‘It was a comfortable win but it was a dour game to be fair,’ he said.

‘It was driving rain so it wasn’t the best spectacle and they were tough playing conditions.

‘There were plenty of errors from both sides. The conditions were atrocious and the ball was like a bar of soap at times.

‘The boys adapted to the conditions and they did what they had to do.

‘We were functional and we got the job done.’

After weathering the early storm from the home side, Portsmouth scrum-half Bobby Owen set the ball rolling when he escaped up the blind side to break the deadlock after 15 minutes.

Aylesford capitalised on a handling error to gain the upper hand and edge into a 7-5 lead but hooker Greg Hoolihan took the visitors into a 10-7 half-time advantage.

Scottish second row, Kieran Heffernan, capped his competitive debut for the club with the killer third try in a solid display and Portsmouth saw out the remainder of the contest in professional style.

Chandler felt his side were well worthy of their victory.

He said: ‘After 10 or 15 minutes, I felt we were always going to win.

‘They didn’t really look like scoring and they got their try from our mistake when we knocked on in the rain.

‘Once we got to 15-7, there was no way back for them.

‘The result was never in doubt.’

It’s been an encouraging start to the season for the Rugby Camp outfit and Chandler is keen to continue the form at leaders London Cornish next weekend.

Chandler said: ‘It’s a good start.

‘We’ve played four and won three, so that is a massive improvement on last season.’