Twickneham in sight after Portsmouth hold nerve

Portsmouth celebrate their first try. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170118-682)
Portsmouth celebrate their first try. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170118-682)
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Havant chief rues missed opportunity

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Portsmouth kept their Twickenham dreams alive with a thrilling 36-33 RFU Intermediate Cup win over Old Colfeians at Rugby Camp on Saturday.

The victory fired the Norway Road club into the regional semi-finals.

They are now just three games away from a showpiece end of season final at the RFU headquarters.

With 12 minutes remaining, the home side trailed 26-22 but a magnificent finish saw them edge out the visitors.

Assistant coach Jim Pearce admitted it was a nerve-racking affair.

He said: ‘I’m sure it was a great game for the neutrals but not great for our nerves.

‘The carrot of a Twickenham final is that much bigger for us after this win.

‘It is an opportunity that doesn’t come around that often, so the players will be giving it everything.

‘We have taken a step closer and it is something we can aim at for this season.

‘Old Colfeians came with a big set of forwards and wanted to drag us into an arm wrestle.

‘We stood up to them and our defence, in particular, stood up to the test.

‘Up front we matched them and our backs looked sharp with the ball.’

Portsmouth started slowly, falling behind after five minutes to an early catch-and-drive try.

Within six minutes, though, the home side hit back with Greg Hoolihan supporting Matt Farnes for a try.

Portsmouth took charge for a spell – stretching their lead to 17-7 through an Anthony Fooks try and a Simon Morgan penalty.

It looked plain sailing when Morgan also went over for a score but they allowed the visitors back into the game.

Three tries either side of the interval put Colfeians in the driving seat before Portsmouth regrouped to produce their grandstand finish.

The fightback began with a penalty kicked to the corner for a line-out which Portsmouth won.

After putting together a number of phases, the backs produced a great move to put Curtis Barnes under the posts.

Morgan converted and within four minutes Barnes added his second try – turning on the afterburners to beat the cover defence for the touchdown.

The visitors pressed to score again at the death but Portsmouth held on for a place in the next round.

Havant’s trip to Maidstone in London one south was postponed because of a frozen pitch.