BASINGSTOKE RFC's first outing of the season saw them lose narrowly at Portsmouth 27-21 in a Hampshire Bowl clash

Straight from the kick off Basingstoke knew they were in a game, Portsmouth were a big team and looked to play at a fast pace which in the first few minutes which Stoke struggled to deal with.

An early interception score for Portsmouth, gave Stoke the chance to re-group and get a foothold back in the match, stringing plays together, Stoke marched up the field, only being let down by their discipline to take advantage of the field positions.

After 10 minutes on the clock, it began to click and some well worked phases and strong carrying, meant Guy Pope and Sean McDermott crosses the line in tandem.

An early injury to Patrick Stranks meant veteran Simon Appleby returned to the field.

The Basingstoke side buoyed by the score started to take control of the game but Portsmouth were not done.

A big run and carry from there big prop crashed through the defences of the Basingstoke side and over for a converted try bringing the scores to 12-7.

This was again the catalyst Basingstoke needed, and they spent the next 10 minutes battered the Portsmouth defences and were rewarded with a well worked team try, as player/coach Appleby crashing over from five meters out.

The game ebbed and flowed in both direction for the last 10 minutes of the half.

Basingstoke being disrupted by a yellow card from Guy Pope for persistent infringements.

The half-time whistle came without any more scores and Basingstoke went in the leaders 14-12.

The second half started an even affair with both teams having the ball in the centre of the park but never really threatening the line.

Now back to 15-a-side Basingstoke started to come back into the game and were making head way, when again indiscipline cost them a penalty in their own half which Portsmouth converted to give them a narrow one point lead.

Basingstoke after a quick team chat, knew what we needed - Keep it tight use our runners and force the penalties and mistakes.

The next five mins saw Basingstoke doing great work to build momentum and pressure.

Stoke won a penalty in their own half and Kurtis Eagle with a long boot managed to find good field position and a chance to launch an attach from a lineout on the 22.

A good call in the line out and catch from Tim Bayes, a new addition to the club, gave Stoke the chance to get their driving maul moving it meant they powered to 10 meters out before a Portsmouth player decided that he needed to stop this drive and illegally pulled to the maul down to prevent a certain try.

With the momentum and it being a cup game Stoke took the positive decision to kick to the corner.

The same call from Bayes resulted in a clean catch and another good driving maul this time straight over the line for captain Rhyan Harmon to score.

Unfortunately this is where it started to go wrong for Basingstoke.

Some well matched play for the next five minutes and a penalty given to Portsmouth.

Which they kicked to touch. The ball comes in, and is not cleanly caught.

The whistle went, the ref pulls out Guy Pope and showed him a second yellow meaning a red followed.

A bemused look on Guy's face as he is penalised for pulling the player down in the lineout.

Unfortunately after the game it was established it was mistaken identity and the red card would be rescinded.

Now the pressure was on, with Stoke down to 14, which Portsmouth took advantage of And spent the next 10 minute hammering the Basingstoke defensive line.

Stoke did not fold and managed to stay strong and withstand the pressure with some great determination and much need turns overs to relieve the Pompey attacks.

Soon followed the final hammer blow with Tim Bayes receiving a yellow which saw Stoke play the next 10 minutes down to 13.

The pressure built and scrum after scrum Portsmouth finally got their reward in the way of a penalty try to make it 27-21.

Basingstoke were spent due the exertion of playing with reduced men and this saw both sides intensity drop with no one really creating any clear chances.

Both sides will get to know each well with two league fixtures and another cup match to follow this season.

Simon Appleby said: "From a coach's point of you I couldn’t be prouder of the boys for their effort today.

"They have set a bench mark for the rest of the season and we hope to continue and strive to improve every game.

"The lads were disappointed as with everyone on the field the result could have been different. Credit where credit is due, Portsmouth deserved their win and we look forward to giving them a warm welcome on September 14 for our first league game when we will show that we have arrived in London Three and we are here to compete."