In-form Portsmouth targeting clawing themselves back into the London Three South West promotion mix in derby against Trojans

Portsmouth are aiming to complete a January clean sweep as they host Trojans in a London Three South West derby clash at Rugby Camp.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:21 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 12:38 pm
Ben Smith is unavailable for Portsmouth's clash with Trojans. Picture: Keith Woodland (091119-185)

With two wins under their belt in the new decade, the home side are determined to claim a third.

Senior coach Neil McRoberts insists this is needed if the city club are to get themselves back into the promotion mix.

‘Since the break we have put in two good performances,’ said McRoberts.

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‘With the way other results went last weekend, it has given us a chance to get back in it.

‘We are two-thirds on the way to our target of winning all our games this month.

‘Some good rugby has been played and we must look to carry that on.

‘We know from the past, however, that Trojans won't be a pushover.

‘Earlier in the season we had a very close game against them and only won it in the final minute.

‘That game developed into a bit of a war of attrition.

‘We didn't play anywhere near our capabilities and allowed ourselves to get drawn into a battle.

‘They will be fired up and see this as a big opportunity to improve their position in the league.

‘Trojans are in a relegation battle but have games in hand on the teams above them.’

Portsmouth are in a good position of not having to make too many changes from the side that won well at Effingham & Leatherhead.

Scrum-half Ben Smith is the only player unavailable from that victory.

It gives youngster Tim Rollett the chance to stake his claim for the position.

Rollett did well early in the season after moving from Gosport & Fareham and was unlucky to lose his place.

The other changes are in the replacements where Ben Lanigan and Dan Fleming replace Will Rolfe and Louis Bristow.

Portsmouth are fifth in the league, nine points behind second-placed Old Tiffinians whom they visit next weekend.

A maximum points haul against Trojans would set them up nicely for that crucial encounter.

For now, though, McRoberts' full focus is on the derby.

‘We are determined that this game will be different from the first meeting,’ said McRoberts.

‘Trojans will present a physical challenge and we can't shy away from that.

‘What we must do is front up and very quickly deal with that aspect.

‘That is what we did at Effingham.

‘Our physicality ground them down, broke play up and allowed us to exploit our pace.

‘We need the same again and more against Trojans, who will present us with a bigger challenge in that respect.’