Diss win earns smiles

Diss 24, Portsmouth 13It was a welcome sight, especially with the sun on the backs, to see first XV rugby resume at Mackenders after a nine-week hiatus, and with the win the smiles also returned.

Diss 24, Portsmouth 13

It was a welcome sight, especially with the sun on the backs, to see first XV rugby resume at Mackenders after a nine-week hiatus, and with the win the smiles also returned.

To play successfully at this level, not only do you need the skills, but also the courage and strength of character to turn games around when you are not playing well.

This game was not a classic rugby match, but was won by the side that had done some soul searching during training, and who stepped up when required.

Diss started slowly, just as they had last week against Bishops Stortford, and were soon on the back foot and behind on the scoreboard. Portsmouth were awarded a penalty for not rolling away, and Diss were soon punished further when their pack pushed them back across the line to score.

At this stage there was no continuity to the Diss play, with too many basic errors, and with the ball being kicked straight to the opposition far too often.

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It was 20 minutes into the match before Diss started to take the game to the opposition, and immediately were awarded a penalty, unfortunately not converted.

Portsmouth responded with a well worked move through their backs to allow their left wing to score, with the conversion again being missed.

The end of the first half saw Diss pressing in the Portsmouth 22, and eventually from good pressure from the pack, Chris Beaird broke the line and put Andy Thorpe in under the posts, with Chris Beaird successful with the conversion.

Half time 7-13.

The second half started with an interception by Andy Thorpe, from a long speculative pass, and he started to celebrate well before touching down between the posts, with the conversion kicked by Chris Beaird.

This score energised the Diss XV, and disheartened Portsmouth and for the next half hour Diss were on top in possession and territory.

Our second row of Chris Howard and Elliot Page were able to catch and steal ball at the line out, leading to a bullocking run by Deaglan Hall, through the heart of the defence, but he was tackled just short of the line.

A good line-out ball again led to a break by Andy Thorpe, whose kick over the top was collected by Alex Kelsall, but he was caught by a last ditch tackle on the 5m line.

Josh Ludkin replaced Will Hemmant, and with the pack driving at every opportunity, Portsmouth started to be penalised with their No 3 soon sitting on the bench for 10 minutes.

This allowed the pack to repeatedly press the Portsmouth line, and eventually Chris Beaird dived over in the corner for the try, which he converted. The influential Portsmouth No 10 was then yellowed for a high tackle, and Chris Beaird kicked the resulting penalty.

Jonny Stevenson replaced Mike Fuller and James McMaster replaced Chris Beaird, who were both suffering with groin strains. Portsmouth then found a new lease of life and spent the last ten minutes of the game in our 22, as they searched for the try that would give them a losing bonus point.

But strong defence and several handling errors by Portsmouth, meant that Diss held out until the final whistle to win 24 -13.

Not only did we achieve a much needed win, we also denied one of our nearest challengers the bonus point, which could be crucial at the end of the season.

The team again showed great courage and character, as they had at Bishops Stortford, in turning a very poor start around and winning the match.

If Diss can get over this slow start to games, they will be safe this season.