Chandler keen for Portsmouth to take revenge

Dan Sargent scores for Portsmouth. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123855-3443)
Dan Sargent scores for Portsmouth. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123855-3443)

Cornborough helps England notch first victory

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Ian Chandler has challenged his Portsmouth troops to put right their Teddington wrongs.

The promotion-chasers welcome their London two south rivals to the Rugby Camp tomorrow (2pm).

Portsmouth were beaten 16-5 at the Middlesex club earlier this term.

It was a hugely-disappointing return for Chandler’s men – not least because it was their first reverse of the current campaign.

Now the hosts are aiming to turn the tables back on their own patch.

‘We only scored one try at their place, so we know they won’t be easy to beat,’ said the head coach.

‘On that day we failed to take our opportunities which is a mistake we cannot afford to repeat.

‘Teddington are a well-drilled workmanlike side, though, so we will have to be very careful.’

Portsmouth, who were relegated from London one south last season, have dragged themselves back into contention for a swift return with nine wins from their past 10 games.

At the start of the season the young side were still suffering a relegation hangover and looked off the pace in their new surroundings.

Chandler and his fellow coaches, Mike Hoban and Sid Street, worked at changing the style of play, though.

And although it has taken time, their efforts are beginning to pay off.

‘In the past, Portsmouth were all about the forwards providing the ball for lightning-quick backs,’ explained Chandler.

‘We have changed the emphasis so the forwards are also more creative and take opportunities.

‘That shows with our prop forward Dan Sargent being the leading tryscorer in our league.

‘It is a case now of working to get our most powerful players into positions where they can prosper.’

While Sargent will once again be a key man for the Rugby Camp outfit tomorrow, the hosts will have to cope without two other influential members of their pack.

Matt Morgan is out with an ear infection, while Rich Farmer is away – which leaves Chandler without two back-row forwards.

However, the coach is lucky enough to have quality replacements at hand – in the shape of Exeter University number eight Matt Peters and Rob Giquel, who is set to return from his shoulder injury.

Scrum-half Titch O’Connor is also back in contention after a shoulder injury.

And Gareth Richards, who is Chandler’s ‘organiser’ in the centre, returns from a knee injury.

The head coach has admitted, though, he faces a tough job keeping such a talented squad content.

‘The main problem is trying to keep everyone in the squad playing and happy,’ he said.

‘We need all our squad because the games are coming thick and fast.

‘Apart from our league games we also have a midweek Hampshire Cup tie at Winchester and an RFU Intermediate Cup tie at Chelmsford.

‘We’ve given ourselves a real chance in the league and our target now is to reduce our off-days to a minimum.’

In Hampshire one, United Services are preparing to face Aldershot & Fleet at Burnaby Road tomorrow.

The Portsmouth outfit are determined to chalk up another victory and continue their quest for promotion.

Elsewhere in the first flight of the county league, struggling Petersfield host powerful rivals Andover at Penns Place.