The last game of this term for the Men’s 2nd team came only a day after their previous match. After a comprehensive win at home to Basingstoke, the chosen team were under no illusions as to the challenge faced in playing a physical Portsmouth team, in their full size pool. Being eight lanes wide and deep at both ends, the tactics were to use the full extremities of the pool, press the Portsmouth players hard, and set up an effective arc formation.
The first quarter was a physical affair, with both teams looking to establish superiority. Good defending by both teams meant that the first quarter was very even, ending with a score of 1-1.
The second quarter saw an increase in the physicality of the Portsmouth team. In an attempt to move the ball away from the opposition, Southampton were effective in using the full width of the pool. Arc formation was good and scoring opportunities were created.
The third quarter of the match has traditionally been the weakest of the four for the Southampton team, and the players got into the pool knowing a big effort was needed. The third quarter saw no let-up in Portsmouth’s physical tactics, unsurprising given how delicately the game was poised. Yet, during this quarter, the Southampton team were penalised particularly harshly. Given the width of the pool, it would have been preferable for there to have been two referees, one on each side. As it was, the one referee (their coach), gave multiple dubious decisions that went against Southampton. Southampton’s players were commendable in their lack of reaction. Given the circumstances, Southampton defended admirably, and even managed to score one goal of their own, bringing the third quarter score to 7-4 in Portsmouth’s favour.
It should be said that after the first quarter, at no point during the match were the Southampton team aware of the score, as the scoreboard was not accurately updated. The team therefore started the fourth and final quarter thinking that the scores must be close. As it was, Southampton continued to be penalised far more than the Portsmouth team, and struggled to establish an effective offense when continually being put onto the back foot. In addition, the width and double-deep nature of the Portsmouth pool began to take its toll on the Southampton players who inevitably began to tire. Portsmouth scored five to Southampton’s two during this quarter. Despite two of Portsmouth’s goals during this final quarter coming from a one-on-one break, the work-rate of the Southampton players was commendable, particularly given the less than amorous attitude some of them felt towards the officials. Final score: 11-6 to Portsmouth.
As with Southampton’s game the previous evening, the score-line belied the difference between the two teams. Unfortunately, tonight the Southampton team were on the receiving end of a physical Portsmouth team who used their strongest players particularly effectively in both attack and defence. Nevertheless, the progress that has been shown by this group of players over this term (the past seven weeks) is remarkable, especially since some of them only played their first ever waterpolo match on 6th February. With such strength in depth, the future of this team looks a fantastic proposition.
2 – Max McCartney
2 – Robbie Collision