Portsmouth have welcome problem for trip to leaders

Ian Chandler feels his Portsmouth side can still mount a promotion challenge this season    Picture: Mick Young
Ian Chandler feels his Portsmouth side can still mount a promotion challenge this season Picture: Mick Young
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Resurgent Portsmouth believe they can cause an upset as they visit London two south west leaders Sutton & Epsom (2.30pm).

After a sticky spell, the Hilsea-based club have reeled off six consecutive wins and travel in confident mood.

Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler admits he faces a selection headache, with lots of players making a big case for a place in the starting line-up.

Tomorrow’s clash with the leaders is a game they all want to play in.

‘We are looking forward to this game and have competition for places in every position,’ said Chandler.

‘It gives me problems trying to keep everybody happy but they are the sort of problems you don’t mind as a coach.

‘In our present form, there is no reason why we can’t go there and get the right result. Our players are believing in themselves and that will give us every chance.’

Portsmouth go into tomorrow’s game buoyant after a confident 27-18 win at Charlton Park in the RFU Intermediate Cup last weekend.

Chandler was pleased with the way his team maintained their discipline to ensure they played their rugby in the right areas.

Outside-half Dan Neville and Danny Harris at full-back were outstanding in that match and will be in contention to retain their spots.

Neville, playing his first game for six weeks, controlled affairs and Harris was rock-solid at the back.

If Portsmouth surprise their hosts tomorrow, it will enable them to cement their mid-table spot.

And Chandler isn’t ruling out a promotion push in the second half of the season.

‘Our target was to go straight back up into London one south,’ said Chandler. ‘After a nightmare start I am hoping we haven’t left ourselves with too much to do.’

Portsmouth were rarely in danger of losing at Charlton Park, accumulating points regularly and maintaining a solid defence.

Sutton & Epsom are the leading scorers in the division, with 246 points in seven games, so another disciplined defensive display will be required if Chandler’s men are to add to their points tally.

A win tomorrow could push Portsmouth as high as fifth.