Portsmouth to regroup after relegation heartbreak

Jim Pearce and Ben Dudley. Picture: Neil Marshall
Jim Pearce and Ben Dudley. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Portsmouth endured a nightmare final day of the season that saw them relegated from London two south west.

Needing two points to stay up, the Rugby Camp outfit could only manage a single try-scoring bonus point as they were thumped 90-24 at Camberley.

Wins for Andover and Effingham & Leatherhead saw both clubs leapfrog the Hilsea-based side – leaving them stranded in the bottom two.

Assistant coach Jim Pearce admitted he had experienced better days.

He said: ‘We lost and ended up being relegated – it doesn’t get much worse than that.

‘The target was to get the two points and, although we scored the four tries, we still needed to finish within seven points of Camberley.

‘We knew that was always going to be a tough ask.

‘They were a good, fast, young side with some very talented players.

‘I have not seen a back three of their quality in our league before.

‘They could easily have been playing National League rugby – two or three levels above us.

‘Every time we made a mistake they punished us with clinical authority.

‘We cannot blame relegation on just one day, however.

‘There was a spell in the season when we lost three or four league games by eight points.

‘If we had lost them by seven points instead, it would have given us enough to stay up.

‘Our aim now is to sit down and evaluate the campaign, regroup and refocus for next season.

‘We must look to come straight back up.’

Portsmouth’s cause has not been helped by a catastrophic injury list.

A number of the team’s key players have missed substantial periods of the season.

That has made it difficult for coaches Ben Dudley and Pearce to achieve any continuity and cohesion in the play.

Pearce also pointed out the unavailability of players for important games, which has also hit hard.

‘Not having players out there hasn’t helped,’ he added.

‘But that is the modern-
day player who is not being paid.’

In London three south west, United Services suffered the same fate after losing 50-27 at Millbrook on Saturday.

Locks Heath Pumas suffered a disappointing end to their Hampshire two campaign with a 62-7 defeat at Southampton.