McRoberts expecting Portsmouth to bounce back from agonising first loss of season

Neil McRoberts expects Portsmouth to bounce back from their first defeat of the season with a London Three South West win at Weybridge Vandals.

By Kevin Ricketts
Thursday, 24th October 2019, 3:01 pm
Dan Gates is out for the rest of the season after fracturing his jaw
Dan Gates is out for the rest of the season after fracturing his jaw

Their one-point last kick of the game loss to Old Tiffinians was a bitter pill to swallow.

Head coach McRoberts insists the team are determined to put their frustrations behind them, saying: 'The players can't wait to get stuck back in.

'They know they didn't get the rewards for a very good performance.

'It was just the result that eluded us.

'We learned that we have to be more clinical and finish games off when we get the chance.

'From what we know about Weybridge we will need to get on top of them early.

'Once we provide a platform then we can unleash our backs.'

Dan Gates suffered a fractured jaw in the last game and is likely to be out for the rest of the season.

Matt Farnes makes a welcome return to fill the gap - his first game of the season - and his experience of playing National League rugby with Worthing could prove invaluable.

Another player with National league rugby experience, Dan Sergeant, comes into the front row.

The pack is reshuffled as hooker Greg Houlihan is unavailable.

Fareham Heathens host Sandown & Shanklin in the Hampshire Premiership at Cams Alders.

'Sandown are our nemesis and it is always a tough encounter,' said Heathens coach Dave Wheaton.

'Having played six and won six so far this season, Sandown are looking strong with some impressive results.

'But do not underestimate a Heathens side at home, as Fordingbridge found out. 

'I don’t know why it is but the lads really raise their game when they become the underdog,’ said Wheaton.

'We have worked hard this week in training around the ruck area, 

'Sandown have good ball carriers and love to exploit any gaps in and around the ruck, so first up tackling will be key on Saturday.

'Our forwards’ driving maul work gives us good “go forward” ball and an opportunity to release our pacy backs.'

Wheaton returns to the second row, Aaron Gallagher starts at hooker and Rich Green returns to tight head prop.

In the backs Will Dalziel starts at fullback, Joe Wood makes a return on the wing with Mike Parker moving to outside centre in place of the injured Rikky Curtis.