Portsmouth must step it up for big finish

Portsmouth are targeting a home win against a top-six side
Portsmouth are targeting a home win against a top-six side
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Ben Dudley has challenged his Portsmouth players to remain unbeaten for the rest of the season in London two south west.

The Rugby Camp side have three games left and host KCS Old Boys tomorrow (3pm).

Head coach Dudley is pleased with the achievements of his squad in his first season in charge and now wants a strong finish.

He said: ‘At this stage of the season it would be easy to feel we are safe and to rest on our laurels.

‘We are safe but we cannot allow ourselves to be content with that.

‘I want us to stay unbeaten in the rest of our games to give us good momentum going into the close season.

‘For us it will be test of our mindset as much as anything else.

‘KCS Old Boys will be a stiff test after we drew up at their place earlier in the season.

‘They are a good outfit that like to move the ball around and possess a couple of dangerous finishers.

‘We will need to make sure that we are well prepared.

‘Our home record against top-six sides has been awful and we are yet to pick up a single point in those games.

‘This is our final opportunity to buck that trend.

‘With that in mind, it makes it an important game for us.

‘If we are to progress further in the future we need to turn Rugby Camp into a fortress.’

Dudley expects to have his captain and number eight Luke Richardson back in the side.

He is a talisman who leads by example.

So his return will give the home side a huge boost.

In previous seasons Richardson has been plagued by injury but has been a regular presence this time around.

He is a player who rarely takes a backward step and his abrasive, aggressive style in the loose and tackle areas are a strength of the team.

Dudley is already looking ahead to next season when he hopes Portsmouth can become realistic title challengers.

‘The key to moving forward is retaining our existing squad and adding one or two quality players to supplement them,’ said Dudley.

‘The players will need to maintain the belief in their ability and the progress they have already made.

‘In the past they were stuck in a losing cycle not understanding how to win games.

‘This season we have won games from a number of different situations.

‘We have won some convincingly, some from tight situations and also when down to 14 men.

‘As players they have figured out different ways of getting over the line.

‘The challenge ahead is stringing two decent seasons together.’

Portsmouth: Andy Barnes, Sam Ellis, Curtis Barnes, Alex Duffus, Cameron Duffus, Gareth Richards, Danny Harris, Tom Chance,

Dan Gates, Ian French, Jackson Clarke, Tom Hankey, Ryan Wilkie, Tom Harkin, Daz Leggot, Darren Crabb, Greg Houlihan,

Rob Gicquel, Luke Richardson, Anthony Fookes