US Win Hampshire Rugby Union’s Gales’ Plate

In a thrilling game against Farnborough, US Portsmouth deservedly lifted the Gales’ Plate following a 21 – 14 victory on Sunday 5th April. IN over coming the vociferous local ‘Borough’ support and their strong Fijian contingent from Aldershot Barracks, the US team showed a way ahead for the Navy sides when they take on the traditional enemy on 2 May. From the out set US Portsmouth took the game to the Farnborough side and played a clever game prompted by their halfbacks, the two Matts – Davis and Brown. If scrum half Davis wasn’t sniping around the fringes he was placing deft chip kicks to regularly turn the Borough defence. If that failed he could rely on his partner, fly half Brown, to gain cheap ground through long clearance kicks or to set the threatening US backs away for a number of dangerous raids in to the enemy’s territory. US took the lead approaching the quarter hour mark following a Farnborough infringement and a successful penalty from Brown. However shortly afterwards they had their travelling fans cheering with joy when an excellent move, involving forwards and backs, swept down the field. First the ball was punched up hard in midfield through Moyse and captain Stoneman before it was swept left and through the quickest of hands for wing Luke Peters to scamper under the posts. Brown converted and US had eked out a well-earned 10 point lead. Whether they relaxed after their score or Farnborough simply raised their game but it was now time for US to show their defensive qualities. Time and time again Farnborough attacked. Around the fringes they were driven back by close quarter tackling whilst in mid field flanker Will Blackett and lock Clayton Patilla were making a prodigious number of tackles. With so much hard work achieved it was a shame that US conceded a relatively soft try following a turnover at a defencive scrum. The lead cut to 10 – 7 as half time approached. The halftime break was made all the more enjoyable for the US fans when their team responded immediately to the set back. Quality lineout ball from Patilla was punched deep in to Farnborough territory by Brown, and with Farnborough unable to clear their lines the pressure mounted. Eventually the home team’s defence was broken for US captain Stoneman to touch down for a deserved try. 15 0 7 at half time. As players became tired the second half lost some of the structure of the first and the Borough Fijian contingent began to express themselves in the open space. However the first score went to US when another Borough indiscretion was spotted by referee Neagle who was enjoying a good game. With the penalty kicked US had the relative cushion of a 18 – 7 lead. However Farnborough were able to set up an exciting last 15 minutes when their key playmaker, Baleamoto, finished off an excellent solo effort with a deserved try which with the conversion reduced the deficit to 18 – 14. A further US penalty from Brown stretched the lead to 7 points but it was still only a single score. As the clock ticked dwon to full time Farnborough set up camp on the US line. Time and time again their relentless attacks were repelled by staunch US defence but could they last out. Then relief game from the blast of the referees whistle. Blackett who had been an irritant in Borough’s side all afternoon clearly provoked them too much and the resultant brace of punches he received from Farnborough No 8 Rokocaba proved to be very costly. Penalty to US, kick to touch. Final whistle. Job done. Well done to all. A great occasion for all who watched, a deserved victory and no doubt some sore heads on Monday morning. Congratulations from all involved with Navy Rugby.