Portsmouth 32-10 Basingstoke RFC

Basingstoke RFC suffered their seventh defeat in a row on Saturday, this time at the hands of a Portsmouth side who ran in six tries on home soil despite spending almost half of the match with only 14 men. Three injuries in the opening 40 minutes saw Basingstoke play the second half without a fully fit 15 and unable to capitalise on a strong first half performance which they led much of.

Basingstoke began the game on the front foot and for the first time this season got the opening score of the game, winger Tani Tala finishing in the corner after Dan Mairs was able to bash his way through the home sides defence allowing quick ball for George Hemmings to dispatch to Jordan Plenderleith and set up a two-on-one which Tala was able to finish off diving in fine style in the corner. 0-5.

Basingstoke were certainly up for the game and went looking for a second try soon after, but some strong defence from the home side prevented them from extending their lead. Portsmouth defence was rewarded as they parked themselves in the Basingstoke 22’ for a short period of time and a driving maul set up from a lineout saw them bundle their way over the line, despite the best efforts of the Basingstoke forwards.

Basingstoke provided an immediate response and soon restored their lead. again, it was winger Tani Tala, with almost a carbon copy of the first try, only with a little less space than he was afforded for his opener. This time courtesy of a great break from Leon Williams with Alfie Rowley in support. The home side tried their hardest to prevent Basingstoke from reaching the line but the ball eventually found itself in the hands of the Basingstoke winger who slid through a miniscule gap to restore the visitors lead, 5-10

‘Stoke were then forced into their first injury change of the afternoon as Hooker, Archie Garland had to leave the field.

The home side were soon finding their stride and were quickly level once again as a knock on from the restart saw Portsmouth rewarded with a scrum which they soon used to turn into points. Picked up from the base Portsmouth were themselves finishing in the corner as a gap in the ‘Stoke line saw the home side take advantage & level the scores once again. 10-10.

Portsmouth’s energy began to lift and a few missed tackles from ‘Stoke was starting to give them a few problems in defence with the home side beginning to play in the right areas of the pitch. Further injury problems for the visitors saw double try sorer Tani Tala taken off with a knee injury meaning ‘Stoke were now filling holes in both the forwards and backs with second row Dan Mairs moving into the back line. ‘Stoke soon fell behind for the first time in the afternoon. What looked a speculative chip over the top of an oncoming ‘stoke defence eventually saw the ball bouncing around & it kindly, for the home side at least, found the right hands and they were able to score beside the posts to take the lead for the first time in the game right on the half time whistle. 15-10.

With the Basingstoke injury department filling up, it was soon added too as Stoke number 8, Sean McDermott was then forced off after his hamstring decided it wanted no further part in the afternoon. With the first half having taken its toll ‘Stoke would play the second 40 minutes having used all their replacements and effectively playing with a walking wounded 15.

The second half began with the visitors being reduced to 14 men. The first of 3 yellow cards to be shown to the home side throughout the second 40 minutes, coming after a high tackle was caught by the referee who had no hesitation in pulling out the yellow card. Despite having a man advantage for much of the half ‘Stoke were unable to capitalise as the visitors ran in 3 second half tries to secure their bonus point victory.

Their first coming after ‘Stoke spent much of the opening period in the home side 22’ but a lost lineout saw Portsmouth able to break away up field and some neat play from the home side forwards meant they would soon score in the corner to secure their bonus point try.

‘Stoke began throwing the ball around a little more in the midfield, trying to keep the ball alive and use their extra man which they continued to have as another high tackle, this time on ‘Stoke scrum half, George Hemmings saw the hosts see yellow again. But it was the loose play that was ‘Stoke undoing allowing Portsmouth their 5th try shortly after they’d secured the BP. Dan Mairs offload finding the hands of the Portsmouth centre who scampered towards the ‘Stoke line and scored underneath the posts to extend Portsmouth’s lead to 25-10.

‘Stoke soon lost another player to injury, this time Jak Pill forced off after making a thumping tackle to deny Portsmouth the chance to score their 6th try, but sadly coming off second best with a head injury. Portsmouth soon got their 6th try on the stroke of full time, though not before another man saw yellow for repeated infringements, as missed tackles from a tiring and depleted visiting ‘Stoke side meant the gaps started to get bigger and the home side were able to dive into the corner, despite the best attempts of Rob Mooney to get his opposite number into touch. Not a single conversion successful throughout the afternoon but it didn’t matter to Portsmouth who finished 30-10 victors.

The scoreboard certainly not a reflection on the game especially based on the performance of the visitors in the opening 40 minutes, arguably some of their better rugby seen so far this season.

Victory for Portsmouth sees them make strides up the table but ‘Stoke stay bottom with the gaps starting to open and a local derby with fellow strugglers Alton coming up on Saturday.

Tries- Tani Tala x2