Portsmouth’s survival bid goes to the wire

Portsmouth front row, (l-r) Ian French, Greg Hoolihan and Benjamin Cumins  Picture: Allan Hutchings (141111-927)
Portsmouth front row, (l-r) Ian French, Greg Hoolihan and Benjamin Cumins Picture: Allan Hutchings (141111-927)
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Portsmouth’s London Two South West survival bid will go to the wire following their 25-15 defeat by Tottonians at Rugby Camp.

It was a case of so near and yet so far, as the city club narrowly missed out on a bonus point which would have kept them up.

Chris Morgan’s last-ditch long-range penalty slid the wrong side of the post leaving Portsmouth distraught.

Portsmouth now face a nerve-jangling final day of the season at Old Reigatians in two weeks time.

If they fail to pick up a point from that game, Portsmouth will be relegated.

‘It was heartbreaking to miss that final kick,’ said director of rugby Ed Neville.

‘We dominated the first half and it is a game we could and should have won.

‘In the second half nerves appeared to get the better of us and we lost our fluency.

‘It is disappointing because this was a game we could and should have won.’

The two teams exchanged early penalties before Portsmouth took charge with two Adam Long tries and a Morgan conversion.

With the wind advantage in the second half Portsmouth had a great chance to go on and make themselves safe.

The turning point came 10 minutes into the second half when the visitors stunned Portsmouth with a breakaway try.

Soon afterwards Portsmouth were reduced to 13 men with two yellow cards in quick succession.

‘In the 10 minutes we were down to 13 men we conceded 10 points,’ said Neville.

Another Tottonians try from broken play five minutes from the end sealed the city club’s fate, though Morgan had the final chance to save their skins.

‘It is soul destroying,’ said Neville.

‘Instead of being able to enjoy our Easter we now have this hanging over us.

‘It is important that we keep our focus, fitness and desire between now and our final game.

‘Old Reigatians won’t make it easy for us and it will all depend on how badly we want it.

‘We have to go into the game looking to win it and not just trying to get the point we need.

‘At least we know exactly what we have to do.’