Pearce urges Portsmouth to make most of home advantage

Portsmouth are aiming to bounce back from their opening-day defeat in London three south west with a victory against Basingstoke at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th September 2017, 6:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:53 am
Portsmouth director of rugby  Jim Pearce. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-24)
Portsmouth director of rugby Jim Pearce. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-24)

Despite starting life at the lower level with a 37-34 loss at Old Emanuel last weekend, Portsmouth’s director of rugby Jim Pearce believes there were a number of positives to take from the performance.

He wants to see his troops make the most of their home advantage against their Hampshire opponents.

Pearce said: ‘In the end, we did well to come away with two bonus points.

‘Even though we found ourselves 17 points down in the second half, we kept coming back at them and didn’t give up.

‘Our forwards started to dominate and we were awarded two penalty tries towards the end.

‘We didn’t start the game well and that is something we need to get out of our system.

‘It is not just about what happens on the pitch, though, and pre-match preparation is important.

‘Being at home should help us in that respect.

‘Hopefully this weekend we can put things right.’

The Rugby Camp outfit are forced to make several changes as Greg Houlihan, Will Brock and Tom Whitehouse are all unavailable.

Anthony Fookes moves from the back row for his maiden start at hooker.

In the three-quarters the experienced Andy Barnes returns at outside half.

In Hampshire one, United Services Portsmouth host Fareham Heathens on the 4G pitch at HMS Temeraire (3pm).

Services coaches Rich Neil and Matt Wake were pleased to see their troops make a winning start at Ellingham & Ringwood.

Neil insists his side are aiming for a top-four finish and are determined to beat Fareham.

He said: ‘We want to be competitive and with our players, we have to be aiming for a top-four finish.’

University of Portsmouth pair Arthur Robinson and Tom Jennings are expected to make their home debuts.

Services are also boosted by the return of captain Liam Geoghegan at wing forward.

The visitors are still missing several key figures due to wedding commitments, although Tom Baxter returns to strengthen the Heathens’ midfield.

Bernie Rhodes, Fareham’s director of rugby, said: ‘We will be glad when we get back to full strength.

‘Getting married during the rugby season is a cardinal sin!’