Portsmouth suffer Hampshire Cup agony

Portsmouth lost 39-16 to rivals Basingstoke in the Gales HSB Hampshire Cup final.

Yet again, Portsmouth were forced into changes from the selected team.

Harry Cripps and Chris Ealey missed out due to injury and were replaced by the experienced Ian French and Steve Clunie.

The visitors had the wind and the slight slope of Basingstoke's pitch in their favour in the first half and made a bright start without scoring early on.

The duck was broken on 30 minutes and James McSeveny twice gave Portsmouth the lead with penalties either side of a reply in kind by Basingstoke.

A yellow-card offence by French gave the hosts the opportunity to again draw level.

They then struck in the last minute of the first half with a try in the corner from Matt Guilfoyle.

Mike Goodall added to his earlier brace of penalties, to convert into the breeze from the touchline and give his side a 13-6 interval lead.

Skipper Richard Herring and flanker Adam Long, together with Dan Gates in the centre, had been outstanding in defence.

Basingstoke broke the resistance with a couple of tries in the first 10 minutes.

The outstanding Goodall scored and improved the first of these and then added the extras when David Byett crashed over for the second.

Portsmouth were determined not to go down without a fight and McSeveny made a long break that found Long in support to score a try that McSeveny improved.

With Chris Goldsmith and Andy Tart on as replacements, the Portsmouth scrum was more solid and helped maintain the pressure enabling McSeveny to further reduce the arrears with his third penalty success.

Both sides used all their replacements as the heat took its toll.

Portsmouth handed first team debuts to Tom Cantwell and Simon Morgan but it was still Basingstoke who finished the stronger with two late tries putting them well clear.

Portsmouth rugby manager Nigel Morgan said: 'It was a good advert for rugby and the cup final.

'Basingstoke officials were very generous with their praise for the way we played.

'We can now look forward and build our young side for next season.

'Matthew Gronow is now retired from first-team rugby and will play for the vets, helping us out if needed.

'Coach Ian Chandler and the team all wished him well after the final whistle.

'Thank goodness that's it. Five away games to finish the season with is no joke and has tested our club spirit, which has stayed intact.'

Other results

Hampshire one: Aldershot & Fleet 10 Petersfield 33.

Other match: Portsmouth IV 66 Fareham Heathens XV 26.