Hampshire must step on the accelerator as they prepare for Devon clash

Ian Chandler wants Hampshire to up the pace in their Bill Beaumont County Championship contest against Devon at Okehampton RFC on Saturday.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 1:57 pm
Curtis Barnes, number 11, is ruled out for Hampshire's match against Devon. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

The senior coach has every confidence his side can bounce back from their opening defeat against Hertfordshire.

He felt a lot of encouragement could be taken from the game against last season’s runners-up in the county rugby competition.

Chandler said: ‘Though we lost I think it showed we are quite capable of competing at this level.

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‘In the end we paid the price for a couple of mistakes and that is the difference at the top level.

‘If you make mistakes opponents will punish you for them.

‘On the other side of the coin we had a couple of good chances but failed to take them.

‘We were in touch all through the game and it was nip and tuck right through.

‘It was disappointing to concede the last score because it deprived us of a losing bonus point.

‘The players know there is room for improvement.

‘They have to be prepared to play at a quicker pace because that was the main difference.

‘Hertfordshire were a yard quicker than us mainly because most of their team are playing National League rugby week in, week out.

‘Devon are more on a par with us and I am expecting a close game.’

Chandler is forced to make a number of changes but feels they don’t weaken the squad.

In the three-quarters winger Curtis Barnes and centre Robbie Searle are both missing.

Barnes is playing in a National Sevens tournament and Searle is unavailable.

They are replaced by Havant pair James Wise and Scott Morris.

In the forwards Hampshire retain the same front five but bring Charlie Stonewall into the starting line-up.

Stonehill was impressive in the first game after going on as a replacement.

Tom Waite and Darren Leggat (Portsmouth) are drafted in as replacements.

Chandler added: ‘We feel we can go to Devon with a degree of confidence.

‘One area where we need to sharpen up is the line-out.

‘In the first game we lost five of our own line-outs in the opposition twenty-two.

‘We can’t afford to waste chances like that after working hard to put opponents under pressure.

‘It is an area we have been working hard on to get right.

‘When we get into good positions we have to make the most of it.

‘Our three-quarters are as good as any in the competition and we possess the fire-power to hurt teams.’