Portsmouth spoil Old Emanuel party with fitting French farewell

Ian French with his daughter Ella, seven, and son Joe, 10. Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180339-003)
Ian French with his daughter Ella, seven, and son Joe, 10. Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180339-003)
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Portsmouth brought the curtain down on their London three south west campaign with a resounding 40-19 win against leaders Old Emanuel at Rugby Camp.

It was the perfect send-off for long-serving prop forward Ian French.

The victory also ensured Portsmouth finished the season with their unbeaten home record intact.

French, 41, was playing his 326th and final game for the Norway Road club before retiring.

And Jim Pearce rated it as one of his side’s best wins of the season.

‘It was great way for Frenchy to end his career,’ said the director of rugby.

‘Some of the rugby we played in the second half was the best I have seen all season.

‘Old Emanuel came to us as leaders and had the chance to finish as champions.

‘In the first half we defended really well against them because they came to do a job.

‘We had total domination in the scrums and up front in the second half.

‘That allowed us to play some superb flowing rugby involving forwards and backs.

‘Two of the tries we scored were exceptional.

‘The aim all season has been to enjoy our rugby and play with smiles on our faces.

‘I think that we achieved that and certainly enjoyed ourselves in this game.’

Portsmouth trailed 9-5 at half-time – despite Luke Simmons scoring the only try of the first period after good work by Jordan Hunter in the centre.

‘At the break we emphasised the fact the next 40 minutes was their last of the season,’ added Pearce.

‘We wanted them to make the most of it.’

Old Emanuel notched their fourth penalty soon after the restart but from that point Portsmouth took charge.

Four tries in the space of 16 minutes took the game away from the visitors.

A penalty score was followed by another straight from the restart when Jack Easterbrook made a key break and linked with Will Brock, Matt Farnes and Curtis Barnes.

They combined to put Hunter in with Simon Morgan converting.

Finn Parry touched down a catch-and-drive from a lineout and Anthony Fooks scored when supporting a break from Barnes.

The hosts completed their scoring on 76 minutes with a Darren Leggott try converted by Morgan.

‘Our aim was to consolidate and we have done that,’ said Pearce.

‘There are games we should have won but it has still been a good season.

‘We finished third, won the Hampshire Bowl and reached the regional semis of the national competition.

‘If the squad stays together there is no reason why we can’t improve.

‘Most importantly we have played some good rugby, scored just short of 1,000 points and enjoyed ourselves.’