Three is magic number for bullish Morgan

Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Nigel Morgan remains defiant despite Portsmouth’s 42-24 London two south west defeat at London Cornish.

The defeat leaves the Rugby Camp outfit occupying the second relegation berth as they head into the final five games of the season.

However, Morgan is convinced they can still avoid relegation in the closing weeks of the campaign.

The first-team manager said: ‘We need to win at least three of our last five games if we are to stay up.

‘League leaders Guildford are up next and that will be tough but we also have games against teams just above and below us after that.

‘I don’t see any reason why we can’t pick up four wins and that should be enough.

‘There is a big block of teams from mid-table downwards who are all capable of beating each other and the situation is going to change week to week.

‘We have to make sure that we put in some big performances.’

Although Portsmouth turned in a much-improved display – after the previous weekend’s disaster at Old Alleynians – fourth-placed London Cornish were always too strong.

The Norway Road side trailed 25-9 at half-time but raised their game to score three tries in the second half.

It was never going to be enough to catch up with their hosts but it does offer plenty of encouragement for the coming weeks.

Greg Hoolihan and Anthony Fookes went over for catch-and-drive scores from line-outs, while winger Curtis Barnes finished well after a good move up the short side.

Scrum-half Chris Morgan celebrated his return to the side after a spell working in Dubai with three first-half penalties.

‘Importantly, we didn’t fall apart like we did against Old Alleynians,’ said Morgan.

‘We didn’t concede the final converted try until the final play of the game and until then had stayed in touch.

‘The lads showed a lot of spirit and played some good rugby in spells.

‘But we were not able to do it for long enough throughout the 80 minutes.

‘As soon as play broke down and the ball went loose they were a lot quicker than we were.

‘That meant they were able to put us on the back foot and they looked dangerous then.’

Portsmouth went into the game without one of their most influential players – wing forward Adam Long, who is suffering with a knee injury.

Morgan took the decision not to risk him and end up losing him for the rest of the season.

‘I am convinced we have the character and spirit to win the games we need to in order to stay up,’ he said.

‘There are a number of positives we can take from this performance.

‘There are also a number of things we need to improve – such as our defence in certain areas.

‘At least it allowed us to regroup after the previous week.’