Portsmouth rise to call for ‘heart and desire’

Ryan Wilkie in possession for Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Ryan Wilkie in possession for Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
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Portsmouth maintained their unbeaten home record in London three south west by beating Old Tiffinians 14-12 at Rugby Camp.

The hosts did it the hard way, though, after having prop Fin Parry sent off five minutes before half-time.

At the break, Portsmouth trailed 12-0 but produced a commanding performance in the second half to overhaul the visitors.

Jim Pearce felt the result keeps his side’s season alive.

‘We were guilty of being slow out of the starting blocks,’ said the director of rugby.

‘Old Tiffinians, with the strong wind behind them, came at us from the start and put us under the cosh. It took us a while to get up to speed.

‘Then we had Fin sent off when he retaliated with a punch after being kneed in the back.

‘We had to reorganise – putting Darren Crabb in the front row – but still playing with seven forwards.

‘We talked at half-time about the heart and desire needed and the players showed just that.

‘As a result, in the second half we went out and performed at a good tempo.

‘Eventually we started to get into our opponents.’

On 52 minutes, the Portsmouth forced a five-metre scrum and sent on prop Ian French.

It paid instant dividends as the hosts scored a push-over try which was converted by Simon Morgan.

Twelve minutes from the end, Crabb forced a turnover ball which was quickly recycled to the left.

Winger Luke Simmons stood up two defenders before bursting past on the outside to run around under the posts for a try.

Morgan made no mistake with the winning conversion.

‘In the second half, Daz Leggott, Ryan Wilkie and Crabb put in some big hits,’ added Pearce.

‘Our defence – to a man – was fantastic.’

The win consolidated Portsmouth’s third place in the table – six points behind second-placed Old Cranleighans who are next up at Rugby Camp.

United Services clinched the Hampshire one title and promotion with a confident 29-0 win at Millbrook.

Rich Neil has lauded the success as a great achievement.

‘It is fantastic,’ said the player-coach.

‘At Millbrook, the weather conditions made it difficult to start with.

‘We built into the game, though, and by the end were quite dominant.’

Sam Masters scored twice, while Bruce Neil, a penalty try and Phil Gilliland topped up the tally.