Chandler has confidence in his young guns

Centre Harry Hodell is set to return
Centre Harry Hodell is set to return
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Havant chief rues missed opportunity

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Ian Chandler is backing his side of largely home-grown youngsters to bounce back to winning ways against Wimbledon at Rugby Camp.

The city club slipped to their first home defeat of the season last week against London Irish Amateurs.

Chandler felt it was no disgrace to lose against their strong opponents.

But the coach and his players view this weekend’s game as an ideal opportunity to get back on the winning track.

‘Despite losing against the Irish, we upped the level of our own game,’ said Chandler.

‘Providing we can maintain the same intensity and pace, we should do alright (against Wimbledon).

‘We struggle when we get sucked down into a slogging match and it is something we have to avoid.

‘Earlier in the season we won comfortably at Wimbledon without ever really putting them away.

‘We did just enough on that occasion but we need to do more than that this time.

‘There are some tough games coming up and it will be good to go into them with the confidence of a win behind us.’

The home side welcome back strong-running centre Harry Hodell who is one of three Hampshire under-20s in the side – Adam Long and Matt Peters completing the trio.

Hodell is another one of Portsmouth’s home-grown players to come up through the junior ranks at Rugby Camp and Seven of the eight forwards are also graduates from the junior section, which is something the club is very proud of.

The men from Rugby Camp have lost the services of centre Lee Chandler for the rest of the season due to his Royal Navy duties.

Chandler is on HMS Edinburgh, spending the next nine weeks in Plymouth.

Will Carpenter, who was drafted into the side last week for his kicking ability, did well with four successful kicks from five attempts and retains his place on the wing.

He also weighed in with a try, claiming all the team’s points against the Irish.

In the forwards, Will Brock is not available so Peters returns from Exeter University to plug the gap.

‘Another pleasing feature is the increased attendances at Rugby Camp,’ said Chandler.

‘Quite a few old faces returned last week and both sides of the pitch were full.

‘They were all impressed with the entertaining, attractive rugby served up by both sides and vowed to become regulars again.

‘We are fifth in the league and handily placed and we have set ourselves a target of finishing in the top four.’

Portsmouth: Whitley, Gates, Ealey, Hodell, Carpenter, Graham, Young, Sargent, Hoolihan, Hankey, Crabb D, Lynch, Long, Peters, Crabb J, Cartmill, Cummins, Lloyd.