OA sink Pompey
National Three London & SE Portsmouth 12 Old Albanian 90 In the corresponding fixture, almost two years ago to the day, Old Albanian arrived at Portsmouth with a side short of confidence and ravaged by injury. On that occasion, the home side made full use
National Three London & SE
Portsmouth 12 Old Albanian 90
In the corresponding fixture, almost two years ago to the day, Old Albanian arrived at Portsmouth with a side short of confidence and ravaged by injury.
On that occasion, the home side made full use of their opponents' problems and sent them on the long road home nursing memories of a heavy defeat whilst supporters were left struggling to recall a worse performance from The Woollams Men in their time at this level.
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On Saturday roles were completely reversed as below strength Portsmouth, desperate to claw themselves out of the relegation zone, nervously prepared to face an in-form side hungry for points in order to tighten their grip on a play-off berth for promotion.
When the action began, Portsmouth's worst fears were realised as their side, currently in the grip of an injury crisis ruling out the availability of several first choice players, discovered that guts and fighting spirit were no substitute for strength in depth when The Woollams Men are 'in port'.
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Pompey's selection problems were so acute that a clutch of their more mature stars were called out of first XV retirement including Matthew Gronow and winger Neil Styles who crowned a determined show with a try in the corner to open the home account after 50 minutes.
Portsmouth's other success came when taking a tap penalty, Dan Sargent bore his way over OA's line in the last seconds in a fitting reward for a defiant finish by his team mates. James McSeveny converted.
Otherwise the passage of play was accurately reflected in the final score as OA's forwards dominated the breakdown and their backs took every opportunity to run the ball, for the most part with devastating effect.
Notching seven tries in each half, OA demonstrated excellent support play with a number of scorers being in the right place to take the final pass on their way close to, or under, the posts.
Prime predator once again was Terry Adams who managed to better his hat-trick against North Walsham last week with four of the best on this outing and thus, moved into the higher echelons of the leagues' top marksmen.
His fourth try, following a deft kick by Richard Gregg, was particularly neat as Adams collected a smart reverse pass from Mark Evans to finish in style.
Earlier Simon Lincoln had undone his markers in a similar fashion putting in Adams, the move having originated from one of several powerful breaks by the excellent Marc Comb whose stature in the second row grows with every appearance.
Two other players bagged a brace of tries each.
Skipper Lawrence White looked particularly sharp throughout and his usual selfless performance was rewarded with two scores of the highest order.
Lincoln was the fulcrum in a move which White finished on the left after 15 minutes. His second, just before the break, was the pick of the bunch bringing both sets of supporters to their feet in acclaim.
The Woollams Men had just defended a thrust into their right hand corner when Ross Hamilton, as influential as ever at No.8, took a quick line out five metres from his own line. The ball was moved swiftly by Lincoln and swept fully 70 metres through a collection of hands before White appeared in support and finished the job.
Charlie Hughes made the most of his second half appearance, powering over from close range after a Gregg Botterman drive before exploiting a gap in the defence with a sprint finish 10 minutes later.
Remaining tries were shared around the team.
The new Springbok recruits, Stefanes Liebenberg and Christoff Lombard each crossed, as did Evans who stayed on the field after aggravating an existing ankle injury before pulling up with 10 minutes remaining, leaving OA down to 14.
The forwards also got in on the act in the form of Matt Hart and veteran campaigner Botterman who is still clearly enjoying the cut and thrust as another campaign draws to its dramatic conclusion.
Richard Gregg collected 25 points of his own including an opportunistic try by reviving a promising move which appeared to have broken down on the right wing. OA's high scoring outside half kicked well for position and, even without the benefit of a breeze off the Solent he had enjoyed in the first period, nailed 10 conversions overall including a couple out wide.
OA's biggest ever win primarily captured maximum points.
In passing it might also have served to wash away any nagging memories harboured by those who made the same trip back in March 2008.
With four league games to play OA's now prepare for a hard game on Saturday when fifth placed Basingstoke visit Woollams, KO 3pm.
OA: Lincoln, Panting, Adams, Shanahan, Lombaard, Gregg, Liebenberg, Tarwera, Botterman, Nelson, Comb, Lye, Bache, White (C), Hamilton.
Reps: Hughes, Hart, Evans.