Portsmouth pride despite end of Twickenham dream

Portsmouth's Gareth Richards. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171564-1)
Portsmouth's Gareth Richards. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171564-1)
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Portsmouth had their Twickenham dreams dashed by a 26-20 defeat at Old Cranleighans in their RFU Senior Vase regional semi-final at Thames Ditton.

It was an agonising loss for the Rugby Camp outfit, who lost out on a showpiece final at the headquarters of the English game.

Portsmouth director of rugby Jim Pearce felt his players gave it everything.

‘We asked them for heart and desire and they gave us that,’ he said.

‘On the day we just came up short but it wasn’t through lack of effort.

‘We competed well against opponents who have only lost once all season.

‘Hindsight is a great thing but maybe a few things went awry.

‘There was a spell when we had them under pressure in their twenty-two and won a series of penalties.

‘Each time we kicked to the corner going for the try.

‘The try didn’t come, however, and Old Cranleighans were eventually able to clear their lines

‘Whether kicking to the corner was the right decision we will never know.

‘After conceding an early try, though, we showed good character in fighting back. It was a good game and our opponents were good value for their win.’

There were only three minutes on the clock when Old Cranleighans broke the deadlock with a converted try.

Portsmouth then knocked-on over the home line but gained a penalty for an earlier infringement. The visitors opted for a scrum and prop forward Finn Parry dived over to reduce the deficit to 7-5 after eight minutes.

After Old Cranlieghans had added another converted try, Portsmouth hit back again before the break.

Outside-half Gareth Richards made a superb 20-metre break before linking with his centres.

They found Luke Simmons who fed Curtis Barnes and the latter turned on the gas to outstrip the home defence.

At the start of the second half, Portsmouth took the game to their hosts.

Unfortunately, all their good work was undone when a long miss-pass was intercepted and an Old Cranleighans player ran the length of the pitch to score.

When the hosts added a further try it looked all over for Portsmouth.

However, they refused to give up and got back to within one score through a Simmons try and a Simon Morgan penalty.

It was the hosts who breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle.

‘We missed a few tackles and failed to score when we had two or three opportunities,’ added Pearce.

‘The lads showed good character to keep putting pressure on them at the end, though.

‘We were still trying to play rugby with good combinations between the forwards and backs.

‘Unfortunately we didn’t quite find the final finish.’