Portsmouth won’t ease off against leaders Winchester

Neil McRoberts insists there will be no letting up as Portsmouth entertain London three south west leaders Winchester at Rugby Camp on Saturday (3pm).

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 9:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 2:38 pm
Portsmouth are in action on Saturday against Winchester at Rugby Camp. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (160319-39)

Portsmouth had their slim promotion hopes ended by their defeat at Battersea Ironsides.

McRoberts insists his side still have plenty to play for.

He said: ‘We have got a couple of big cup games coming up and also this is a Hampshire derby.

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‘There is no doubt we will be taking it very seriously.

‘After being thumped at Winchester just before Christmas we have a score to settle.

‘On that day we didn’t perform and will look to make amends for that.

‘Our home record is decent and we are keen to end our home programme with another win.’

Portsmouth are boosted by the return of a couple of key players in the backs.

Mark Ovens and Matt Farnes are back in the starting line-up.

Fareham Heathens travel to Fordingbridge in their penultimate game in the Hampshire Premier League on Saturday.

Poor availability and injuries see a much-changed squad.

‘It’s been a tough season for us, ever increasing player injuries coupled with poor availability are not an ideal situation to be in,’ said player-coach Dave Wheaton.

‘I always knew this league would be a physical and mental test for us, but the lads will fight until the end and give everything they have.

You can’t ask more than that of a player.’

James Lee who continues to impress in training gets a start at blind side flanker.

Corbin Farrell, Louis Cadden and Steve Compton make up another new front row partnership.

‘In the centre we have Doug Barrow and Josh Bisset who are normally first choice back row players, but such is our poor availability this weekend we are forced to make some changes,’ said Wheaton.

Ted Mata and Steve Devoy are on the wings.

‘I hope these changes do not upset the balance of the squad,’ said Wheaton

‘Fordingbridge have a very good set of backs and play a quick wide ball in their attack.

‘Heathens forwards can hopefully control the game against a historically weaker Fordingbridge pack.

‘That’s where I think we can cause the most damage and hopefully provide go forward ball to our scrum and fly half of Dan Lee and Joe O’Loghlen.’