Chandler: We must buckle up for a rough ride

Darren Crabb in action. Picture: Sarah Standing (110146-8666)
Darren Crabb in action. Picture: Sarah Standing (110146-8666)
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Portsmouth are expecting a tough forward battle as they open their London League south one home campaign against Chichester at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).

Chichester are one of the pre-season favourites for promotion and are renowned for their powerful pack.

The Hilsea-based club know they will have to take the West Sussex outfit on up front if they are to spring a shock.

‘Our start to the season could not have been tougher,’ said Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler.

‘Losing at Dover, hopefully, will act as a wake-up call.

‘We know exactly what to expect from Chichester and have to be prepared. They gave us a rough ride at their place last season but we improved when we played them at home.

‘We will have to be competitive in the forwards.’

The home side are boosted by the return of the Crabb twins – Darren and Jason – who are back in the forwards.

With Luke Richardson and Graeme Butterworth also included in the pack, Portsmouth have beefed up their ranks in readiness for the challenge.

‘All of a sudden we have some sizeable lads out there who can take Chichester on,’ said Chandler.

‘Darren was a big loss to us last season with his knee injury and is a hard-working player.

‘He is very combative, which we will need for this game.’

Injuries and holidays, however, mean they won’t be at full strength.

Rich Farmer has an ankle injury that could keep him out for a spell, while Jack Hazeldine and Will Carpenter are ruled out for three weeks after suffering concussion at Dover.

Patrick Bion and Nick Lynch are on holiday before returning to university so there is a recall for veteran Matt Gronow on the wing.

‘Even at 37 years of age he (Gronow) is still probably the fittest and quickest player at the club,’ said Chandler.

‘We will use this game as a benchmark and the lads are all keen to prove themselves against one of the top sides.

‘If we can get the ball out to our backs then we will be able to run Chichester around a bit.

‘We will just need to be sharp and clever in the way we play it.

‘Last week we were too anxious with too many players trying to impress.

‘They don’t need to do that because we know their quality.

‘When we get chances we must make sure we are patient and not snatch at them.’

Portsmouth: Barnes, Dufus, Richards, Masters, Gronow, Watson, Neville, Cumins, Hoolihan, Hankey, French, Crabb, Butterworth, Brock, Richardson