Portsmouth win first Varsity match of the year
American Football was the first fixture of the competition
Yesterday saw one of sport’s greatest rivalries reignite in a highly competitive fixture with huge implications for the future, and I’m not talking about Arsenal v Tottenham. Southampton and Portsmouth faced off in the first game of Varsity 2015/16 and it was the Portsmouth Destroyers who stomped out the Southampton Stags in convincing fashion to take victory, with a final score of 24-8.
In chilly conditions, a large crowd gathered at Wide Lane Sports Ground to cheer on Team Southampton consisting mainly of students from both University of Southampton and Solent University, who put aside their hatred of The Stags in favour of their greater hatred for Portsmouth. The 200+ strong spectators were in high spirits despite the depressing weather threatening to keep many potential fans away. The Stags responded positively to the overwhelming support and dominated the first quarter, racing into an early 6-0 lead and looking relatively comfortable.
However things soon took a turn for the worse and a switch of ends for the second quarter signified a switch in fortunes as well for Team Southampton. Portsmouth Destroyers upped their game and The Stags struggled to cope with the sudden burst of strength and speed displayed by the visitors, who flipped the score in their favour and went into half-time with a 11-6 lead following a touchdown, a field goal and a safety score.
The Stags looked demoralised coming off the pitch at the end of the first 30 minutes, leading the coaches to offer a spirited team talk in the changing rooms, reminding the team that whilst a large number of them may be rookies, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn things around if they take their opportunities. Re-energised and raring to go, the Stags returned to the field for the second half, determined to get a result for Team Southampton.
Unfortunately whatever the Portsmouth coaches said worked just as effectively and the Destroyers continued to assert their dominance throughout the third quarter, scoring a second touchdown to extend their lead to 17-6. By this time a few of the Stags players were picking up injuries, with Will French and Josh Gomarsall both having to limp off in the latter stages of the game. Showing no mercy, Portsmouth continued the pressure in the fourth quarter and scored a third touchdown which was later converted, bringing the score to 24-6. Previously supportive Solent students began to sense the blood of their bitter rivals and despite hating Portsmouth more, chants of ‘you’re sh*t’ started to echo down from the stand. Even with a safety score being awarded to the Stags during the dying embers of the match, the ref called time with the final result ending 24-8 in favour of the Portsmouth Destroyers.
Congratulations to Portsmouth Destroyers who fully deserved their victory and commiserations to Southampton Stags who despite a spirited effort, where simply beaten by the best team on the day. This gives Team Portsmouth early bragging rights but fortunately the American Football fixture is a two-legged tie, meaning that the Stags have a chance to get revenge on the 29th of November