Hampshire bowl provides Portsmouth with chance for perfect end-of-season tonic

Neil McRoberts is calling on Portsmouth to lift their game one last time at the end of a long and demanding season.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 3:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 3:43 pm
Ian French will be stepping in for Portsmouth in the Hampshire bowl final. Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180339-002)

They take on Eastleigh at Rugby Camp in the final of the Hampshire bowl on Saturday (2.30pm).

The senior coach is hoping it will be third time lucky after recent league and cup disappointments.

Twice this season Portsmouth have fallen just short of achieving big ambitions.

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Last weekend they just missed out on a Twickenham final, losing 30-20 to Honiton in the National RFU Senior Vase semi-final.

They also missed out on promotion from London three south west, finishing third behind Winchester and Battersea Ironsides.

The cup semi-final was an epic encounter and both physically and mentally draining.

McRoberts expects his team to lift themselves one final time this season.

It won’t be an easy task against Eastleigh who play one level above in London two south west.

The head coach said: ‘Our players are keen to put the disappointments of last week’s cup defeat behind them.

‘They are rejuvenated and enthusiastic to correct a few wrongs.

‘Not all of them will make it because the demands of some tough games have started to take their toll.

‘A number of players won’t physically make it, having said that we still hope to field a strong squad.

‘All the players who are fit want to make sure we finish the season on a high by winning some silverware.

‘We all want to head into the summer on a high.’

Ian French replaces the unavailable Ben Lanigan in the front row.

Captain, Darren Leggat is also unavailable due to work commitments.

This means Elliott Worrall, who has National League experience, comes in.

The biggest challenge facing the home side is in the three-quarters where a number of players face fitness tests.

McRoberts has enjoyed his first season in charge, despite the disappointment of missing out on promotion.

He added: ‘We found out that when competing on a number of different fronts you have to be consistent.

‘One week we could be fantastic and the next fall short of our standards.

‘At the start of the season we had the biggest influx of new players at the club for a few years.

‘They have had to get used to playing alongside each other.

‘It would be nice for the players to see all their hard work rewarded with a trophy.’