Portsmouth head coach throws down cup gauntlet

Portsmouth's Adam Long is back. Picture: Paul Jacobs (114006-8)
Portsmouth's Adam Long is back. Picture: Paul Jacobs (114006-8)
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Portsmouth have extra incentive to get back to winning ways against Old Alleynians in London two south west at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).

Head coach Ian Chandler has told his players they are playing for their cup final places.

The Rugby Camp side will face either Gosport & Fareham or Havant in the Hampshire Cup final the following weekend – and places are up for grabs.

‘I have let the players know they need to improve if we are to stand any chance of winning the cup,’ he said.

‘If we are brutally honest we have to say that we have under-performed this season.

‘It is frustrating because it has been a bit hit and miss despite having a number of good players at the club.

‘A horrendous spate of injuries have not helped but it shows that we lack strength in depth.

‘It is no good crying over spilt milk, though, and we have to look to finish the season on a high.’

Chandler is taking a year away from his Portsmouth coaching duties next season as he looks to further his own coaching development with Brian Saunders at United Services.

Coaching pair Sid Street and Mike Hoban will take the reins at Rugby Camp as Portsmouth once again bid to regain their London one south status.

They have learned this season that London two south west is a competitive league and not an easy one to escape.

Chandler is happy he is leaving the senior side in good hands, though.

‘If I didn’t feel I was leaving things in good hands I wouldn’t be leaving,’ he said.

‘Sid Street came to us from United Services last summer and has quickly built up a good bond with the forwards.

‘He is a good old fashioned prop, who learned his game the hard way.

‘Sid has excellent man-management skills and the forwards have proved one of the mainstays of our season.

‘Mike has come through the club, coaching the juniors, and we spotted his potential early on.

‘His experience will only grow in time.’

Portsmouth are still suffering from injury and unavailability problems.

Tom Hankey, Luke Richardson, Matt Morgan, Rich Farmer, Matt Peters, Dan Neville and Will Carpenter are all missing.

But back-row forward Adam Long returns from injury, along with Luke Chandler in the centre.

The latter will be partnered by 38-year-old Matt Gronow, who still has the habit of scoring on his rare senior appearances.

Elsewhere, United Services entertain Petersfield in an attractive Hampshire one derby at Burnaby Road.

In Hampshire two, Southsea Nomads host runaway leaders Solent University and Fareham Heathens visit Lymington Mariners.