Portsmouth ready for crunch trip to Teddington

Anthony Fooks. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-346)

Pearce: Best is yet to come from Portsmouth

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Portsmouth know it is crunch time as they travel to struggling Teddington bidding to take a giant step towards London Two south west survival.

Teddington are already relegated and the city club occupy the second relegation berth with just three games to play.

They have the advantage of a game in hand on closest-rivals Trojans, who are one point ahead of them.

With Trojans unlikely to pick up anything against league-leaders Guildford, it is vital Portsmouth make the most of the opportunity to leapfrog their local rivals.

Portsmouth manager Nigel Morgan has a clear target in mind for the team.

He said: ‘We know that if we win two of our last three games we stay up,’ said Morgan.

‘Teddington are already down and we have to make sure they don’t take us with them.

‘It won’t be easy, because it is not the easiest of places to play being situated in a big open park.

‘We will have to remain focused and very disciplined.

‘It was a good win against Effingham & Leatherhead last week.

‘But we will have to be a lot calmer and avoid giving silly penalties away.

‘We have to trust our defence which we didn’t do in our last game.’

Portsmouth expect Teddington will come at them from the start in a bid to unsettle them.

Morgan expects the opening 20 minutes to be torrid.

He feels that if the visitors can come through that period well they will be fine.

‘We can’t afford to let them take control and must not offer them any room for encouragement,’ said Morgan.

‘It is up to us to go out, dictate the pattern, and impose our game on them.

‘Our discipline will be crucial in helping achieve that.’

The visitors make a number of enforced changes.

Back-row forwards Mark Redding and Alex Lamont, along with winger Lee Norman, are ruled out by work commitments.

Matt Morgan makes a welcome return to the back-row.

Ian French moves back into his favoured position in the second row and prop forward Osi Anyanwu is drafted in.

The influential Dan Neville returns in the centre, with Gareth Richards still missing through illness.

Morgan needs a big game from his team.

He believes young second row forward Rob Gicquel has an influential role to play.

Morgan has been impressed with Gicquel’s recent progress.

‘He is only 21 years old and is ambitious to play at a higher level.’ said Morgan.

‘We need another big game from him.

‘He is our main source of ball in the line-out and has become more and more influential as the season has gone on.

‘If we can establish a good forward platform then we can get the ball to our dangerous finishers in the right areas.

‘It would be nice to pick up a bonus point but the priority is getting the game won first.

Portsmouth: Harris, Barnes, Gronow, Neville, Gates, Chandler, C. Morgan, Cuming, Hoolihan, Anyanwu, French, Giquel, Phillips, Long. M. Morgan.