RUGBY: Chelmsford finally managed to play their Intermediate Cup Quarter Final against Portsmouth at the third attempt, following two postponements.
Chelmsford gave a debut to Thomas Taylor, a scrum half from Chichester. He played at full back with Luke Venn starting his first game at scrum half following a knee injury in September.
Both Andy and Jim Cooke also returned to the side. On a bitterly cold day both sides struggled to find much fluency.
The early exchanges were even, but it was not until ten minutes into the game that Chelmsford took the lead with a well taken penalty from fly half Simon Hoult from fully 45m wide out.
Portsmouth then drew level when Chelmsford were penalised for hands in the ruck.
The visitors then took the lead when the home side were penalised for not rolling away.
Mike Mullings left the field with a leg injury to be replaced by Seb Hill.
Portsmouth had a chance to increase their lead eight minutes from time, but their kick fell short of the posts, but five minutes from time they scored what they thought was a perfectly good try in the left hand corner, only to be brought back by the referee for a forward pass.
They were then thwarted in the right hand corner when Hoult got a hand to the ball, and then despite seeing Portsmouth being held up over the line, Chelmsford managed to hold on to a half time deficit of 3-6 with some great defensive work.
Chelmsford brought on two subs at the start of the second half, Tatenda Gurure and Mark Dudley. It didn’t get off well for Chelmsford when Portsmouth scored a converted try.
Following a penalty, Portsmouth won the line out and from a rolling maul, peeled off to score a try and with the successful conversion they now found themselves leading by 13-3.
From Chelmsford’s point of view they then began to find themselves on the wrong side of the referee’s penalty count, and some frustration crept in from the home side, particularly after Simon Hoult had been on the wrong end of several hard tackles.
Unfortunately for the home side the breakdown area where most of the infringements had taken place, was not well controlled and Chelmsford did suffer through this, with a number of the Portsmouth players coming into the side of rucks and going off their feet and coming round off side.
Needless to say some niggle crept in and the game as a spectacle subsided somewhat.
After 25 minutes Chelmsford got a lifeline when substitute wing Tatenda Gurure made a great break down the right hand side to bring Chelmsford within metres of the Portsmouth line, the ball was then recycled and spun along the Chelmsford back line and flanker Josh Clarke was on hand to finish off the move by scoring in the left hand corner.
This reduced the deficit to 8-13 and brought Chelmsford back into the game, but they couldn’t breach the visitors’ defence. With the last kick of the game, Portsmouth increased their lead from a penalty kick straight in front of the posts to run out winners by 16-8.