Dad’s Army back to fire up survival fight

Tom Radbourne is back to help fire up Portsmouth's survival bid
Tom Radbourne is back to help fire up Portsmouth's survival bid
Luke Barfoot will make his 100th league appearance. Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant hope normal service will resume at home

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Portsmouth are banking on their Dad’s Army centre partnership to do the business against Old Alleynians in their crucial London Two south west clash at Rugby Camp.

Veterans Tom Radbourne and Matt Gronow are reunited in the three-quarters as the Norway Road club look for a vital win.

Another golden oldie, Ian Thatcher, returns in the second row after a spell away from the area.

It has been a difficult first half of the season for the hosts, who currently prop up the table.

The clubs above them are still in reach but director of rugby Ed Neville accepts Portsmouth have to start making up lost ground.

‘This is a very important game for us,’ he said.

‘It is important we start winning games because we don’t want to find ourselves out of touch going into the new year.

‘We are convinced we can stay up but it is important that we don’t leave ourselves with too much to do.

‘The veterans coming back in have shown they are more than capable of doing the job.

‘Ian Thatcher will give us a bit of extra doggedness in the forwards and he is the type of player who will front up to the opposition.

‘He will get into the thick of the action.’

The home side are also boosted by the return of a number of other influential players.

Dan Neville is back at outside-half and he has the ability to control the game with his accurate kicking.

Ed Neville is delighted to welcome back Hampshire under-20 number eight Will Phillips, too.

‘Will is a big ball carrier for us and gets us over the gain line,’ he said.

‘He offloads the ball well and is quick for a big guy.’

Elsewhere, United Services are under no illusions as they travel to Andover for a Hampshire one contest.

They are looking for a fifth straight win but it won’t be easy against one of their promotion-chasing rivals.

‘This is our toughest assignment of the season to date,’ said coach Brian Saunders.

‘It is very tight at the top – with four clubs, including ourselves and Andover, within a few points.

‘Andover are a progressive and ambitious club.

‘It will provide a big benchmark for us and give us an idea where we need to develop in the next few months.

‘Hopefully we will be close to full-strength and can go there with confidence.’

Saunders is boosted by the return of regular half-back partnership Iuean Clements and Wayne John.

In Hampshire two, Fareham Heathens will aim to build on their win over leaders Petersfield at lowly Alresford.

Southsea Nomads visit Fawley and Petersfield tackle Stoneham at Penns Place.