Honiton at Twickenham – How Portsmouth were toppled on Easter Saturday
PUBLISHED: 11:31 22 April 2019
On what was the hottest Easter Saturday in living memory, Honiton, and a huge band of travelling supporters, ventured up to Hampshire to take on Portsmouth in the semi-final of the RFU National Senior Vase and they won the game 30-12 to set up a May 5, Twickenham meeting with North Allerton RFU, writes Jerry Rice.
With the Honiton faithful heavily outnumbering the home support the stage was et for a memorable 80 minutes of action – and so it was!
Honiton kicked off, but the ball was soon back in their half and, following an off-side decision, the hosts slotted the resultant penalty to lead 3-0.
The Lacemen were clearly dominant in the scrum and they were close to a reply when Adam Thompson was forced into touch. A home attack followed during which turnover ball was won and, Ben Small made a great break from midfield, the ball was recycled wide where Thompson took it on to show the hosts a clean set of heels and a Tom Steer conversion put the Lacemen into a 7-3 lead.
Once again the Honiton back line made full use of the wide pitch, particularly on the left flank where Thompson was a constant threat. Another break, this one launched by prop Ross Watts, ended with a Steer penalty that made it 10-3 after one quarter of the contest.
Portsmouth clearly found the disciplined Honiton defence a tough nut to crack, but they did reduce the arrears to four points with a penalty, 10 minutes before the break.
There was to be no further scoring, but the half ended with the Lacemen first recovering well after a couple, of loose passes presented opportunities to the hosts and, in one try-saving tackle, Will Tyers was hurt and forced off with a shoulder injury as half-time arrived with the Lacemen leading 10-6.
The second half saw Honiton playing with the wind at their backs, but it was the home side who pressed first, but a knock-on allowed Alex brooks to clear down field.
When a penalty was awarded to the Lacemen for 'holding on' dissent at the officials decision saw the ball moved forward 10 metres and, now in range, Steer duly rifled it between the uprights to make it 13-6.
Portsmouth, who are a big and robust outfit, built up a head of steam and a converted try saw them level things up at 13-13 with just one quarter of the contest to play!
The tension was now at fever pitch and the game was certainly not for the faint-hearted!
From the kick-off, Portsmouth broke through, but fumbled the ball again, and, when it was gathered, the forwards were held up, but, from the resulting scrum, Tom Steer was put through a gap under the posts and he converted his own try to make it 20-13.
added the extras himself for the Ton to go out in front again 13-20. back came the home side and again, a converted try evened things up at 20-20!
From the kick-off, Portsmouth again fumbled the ball and a good scrum saw Honiton camped on the try line before Phillip Cooke sniped a try at the base of the posts. Tom Steer added the conversion and, at 20-27, the Honiton supporters cranked up the volume! Minutes later Tom Steer missed a relatively easy kick and one or two heads were clearly in hands! However, shortly after another kick was presented to Steer and this time he drilled it between the posts to put 10 points between the teams!
The closing moments saw Honiton manage the game with great efficiency and, when the final whistle blew, there were emotional scenes as the supporters invaded the pitch to congratulate their players.
It was a cracking game of rugby and the home side were a good strong outfit. Commiserations must go to Portsmouth for no one wants to be the losing side in a semi-final particularly with Twickenham the prize!
It is hard to single out individuals after such a titanic game and more fitting perhaps, is to award the Man of the match to the whole squad, who not only played their part in this terrific win, but in a wonderful season that will now culminate in a May 5 visit to Twickenham – it is, quite frankly, an unbelievable achievement for such a small town.
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