Barnes back as Portsmouth play to strengths

Portsmouth have experienced outside-half Andy Barnes back for their London two south west encounter against Old Reigatian at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).

Friday, 4th March 2016, 7:30 am
Andy Barnes. Picture: Paul Jacobs (114006-11)

Barnes has been out since before Christmas with a knee injury but Ben Dudley is delighted to have his influential playmaker back in the ranks.

‘I am hoping he will pull the strings for us and bring players around him into the action,’ said Portsmouth’s head coach.

‘He has lots of experience and is very knowledgeable.’

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In the forwards, Ben Cummins returns to loose head prop with Ian French starting in the tight-head berth.

The home side are looking to make up for a defeat suffered at Old Reigatian early in the season when Dudley admitted they didn’t play well.

‘When we met them we had just won four on the trot but for some reason we didn’t hit our straps,’ he said.

‘This time we have to make sure our mindset is right and we start well.

‘The team has developed and improved since then.

‘We know our visitors are a well-drilled side but we will be concentrating on our game and playing to our strengths.’

United Services continue their bid for London three south west safety against Old Tonbridgians at Burnaby Road (2.30pm).

Director of rugby Matt Davis is convinced Services can stay up but admits they need to put more points on the board.

‘I would like to see us open a bigger gap between us and the bottom three,’ he said.

‘There is every confidence we will pull clear of danger.

‘A couple of wins would easily see us move a good way up the league.

‘Earlier this season we lost 19-12 away from home to our opponents, so we know they are good.

‘We are fielding a strong pack of forwards, though, and have a number of key players returning.’

Player-coach Jimmy Bond returns at 10 and Nathan Bond steps into the centre.

Sam Porter is away, so Liam Geoghegan takes his place at eight.

In Hampshire two, Southsea Nomads travel to Fawley.