Portsmouth’s belief is back

Matt Gronow Picture: Mick Young
Matt Gronow Picture: Mick Young
Luke Barfoot will make his 100th league appearance. Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant hope normal service will resume at home

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Portsmouth head into their tough London two south west derby assignment at Winchester in good heart.

The city club gave themselves a huge confidence boost by picking up their first league win of the season last weekend.

The 16-8 victory over Old Reigatians wasn’t enough to lift them off the bottom, but it has given them belief.

‘It is nice to be going into this game with that win under our belts,’ said director of rugby Ed Neville.

‘We have been playing well in the last few weeks and for once we reaped the rewards.

‘Our forwards have been magnificent, dominating the breakdowns and setting up a good platform.

‘We are in a lot better shape than we were a month ago.’

Veteran winger Matt Gronow is drafted back in on the wing for his first game of the season in place of the injured Tom Whitehouse.

Lee Chandler also returns in the centre after recovering from a broken nose.

‘Winchester will be tough because they are a fit young side who like to run the ball around,’ said Neville.

‘We will need to curtail that, and if we can stop their supply of ball, we will give ourselves a chance.’

United Services are looking to break into the top four of Hampshire one by defeating Romsey at Burnaby Road.

Services will need to raise their game after struggling to get past Overton and Southampton in recent weeks.

‘We have to be far more clinical,’ said director of rugby Simon Burns.

‘Once we have raced to our fourth-try bonus point we have been guilty of slipping into the comfort zone.

‘We have to keep pushing for the whole game.’

Wayne John returns to partner Danny Johnson at half-back, with Tom Barnes (centre) and Luke Aegus (wing) also reappearing.

Navy under-23 wing-forward Paddy Dowds also starts, with Simon Pinhorne taking over the captaincy from Will Blackett, who has gone to sea.

Veteran Burns, who was forced to play last weekend after players injured themselves in the warm up, is on the replacements bench.

In Hampshire two, Southsea Nomads host Chineham at Furze Lane.