If there was a case to follow rugby league and make the union game a summer sport yesterday added to it. The first round of the 2012/2013 Inter Command competition was played between Portsmouth and Scotland at a bitterly cold HMS Collingwood. The conditions obviously got to the players as the first half was a scrappy affair with little continuity and both teams defences on top. For most of the half Portsmouth created the better chances but in the last five minutes Scotland pressed the Portsmouth line to show that this was not to be a one sided contest. The half time whistle was blown to a 3 – 0 score line in favour of Portsmouth achieved by a penalty from captain and Number 8, Ian Cooper.
Fortunately for the handful of hardy soles on the touchline the second half was an improvement. Again it was Portsmouth who started the more brightly and they created a number of chances. However the RN Scotland defence was dogged and tenacious and seemed determined to keep their goal line interacts. For all their pressure by mid half Portsmouth had only managed to eek out two further penalties, from fly half Darren Bamford, to extend their lead to 9 – 0.
This seemed to be the cue for a spirited RN Scotland fight back, probably helped by man of the match Cooper having left the field through injury. First so good back play achieved a position in the Portsmouth 22m area and from a penalty for offside Roden landed the kick.
Obviously with lifted spirits the scottish side, to a man, lifted their game and put the home team under sustained and significant pressure. For a while the Portsmouth defence held but eventually from a 5m attacking scrum RN Scotland Number 8, Tamoi, drove over for a well deserved try. The big number 8 had been one of the stand out performers in the RN Scotland team. Roden had the kick to edge the lead but it faded wide by the narrowest of margins.
With less than 10 minutes to play it was a one point game but Portsmouth were sensibly playing the game deep in the RN Scotland half. A turnover ball gave the home side possession with less than five minutes to go. This last passage of play saw Portsmouth at their best and set a template they need to emulate later in the tournament. Hard drive play from forwards and backs alike rocked Rn Scotland back in the tackle. With continuity game sustained pressure and eventually the spirited defence was broken for Darren Bamford to cross for the try and seal the win. His conversion ended the game which had finished much better than it started.
A selection of images from the match are on the Inter Command page available by clicking here.
Portsmouth Command: Green; Chutt; Couzers; Bird; Horne; Jacques; Davies; Cooper * (Capt); Samuel; Bamford *; Connick; Tyer; Bechly; Leqeta; Baker
Replacements: Thompson; Otuny; Malone; Johns; Pearce; Carr; Mellor
RN Scotland: Toby; Dowie; Stevie; Tom; Spain; Warwick; Bowen; Tamoi; Marc; Roden; OWens; Chappers; Baker; Waldron; Jonah
Replacements: Humbley; Nory; Clements; Morley; Fenton; Lee; Taylor