Slow start blamed as Portsmouth have dreams dashed

Luke Simmons
Luke Simmons
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Portsmouth saw their end-of-season Twickenham final dreams dashed by a 43-15 RFU Intermediate Cup defeat at Charlton Park on Saturday.

The Rugby Camp club never recovered after conceding three tries in the opening quarter.

Portsmouth trailed 24-0 at the half-time break and knew they faced an uphill struggle after the interval.

While they improved to score three tries in the second half, the visitors were never able to get within touching distance of their hosts.

Assistant coach Jim Pearce blamed his side’s tendency to start games poorly as the key factor behind a disappointing cup exit.

‘Once again we were slow out of the blocks,’ he said.

‘We just didn’t get going and that allowed our opponents to take charge.

‘Charlton Park had a few big guys up front and that enabled them to set a platform for their pacy backs.

‘Our plan was to move their big forwards around and tire them out.

‘But we didn’t do that enough at the start.

‘Once they got the early points on board it was always going to be an uphill struggle.’

Winger Luke Simmons ran in two tries at the start of the second half – following good combination between forwards and backs.

However, two further Charlton Park tries saw the home side leave Portsmouth in their wake.

The visitors did have the consolation of scoring the try of the day through Ryan Wilkie.

A couple of breaks and excellent off-loading of the ball saw Wilkie finally go in for his score from five yards out.

‘At that stage we were running the ball from everywhere,’ said Pearce.

‘If we had done that from the start then it might have been a totally different story.’

Portsmouth can now focus for the remainder of the season on making sure they maintain their London two south west status.

Three successive league defeats have left them dangerously close to the bottom three.

With relegation rivals Effingham & Leatherhead showing recent improvement, Pearce knows his team still have work to do.

‘We have five games left and every single one is crucial,’ he added.

‘It is vital we are focused and will need to show continuity and cohesion.

‘It means all the players need to be at training so we can get the results we need to pull away from the bottom three.’