Chandler wants side to Crabb cup chance

Darren Crabb returns to the Portsmouth ranks after a work placement in Norway
Darren Crabb returns to the Portsmouth ranks after a work placement in Norway

Portsmouth out to turn tables on Cranleighans

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Portsmouth are hoping for a Rolls Royce-quality performance from second-row Darren Crabb in their RFU Intermediate Cup tie at Chelmsford tomorrow (2.30pm).

Crabb returns to take his place in the Portsmouth pack alongside twin brother Jason, after a three-week work placement in Norway.

Coach Ian Chandler is delighted to welcome the 25-year-old back and believes his physical presence may come in handy in Essex.

‘Darren is very competitive and gives us an extra physical edge,’ said Chandler.

‘He has been away on a work exchange as part of his electrical fitter apprenticeship and it’s good to have him back.

‘Apart from being a very good player, he is another excellent leader and motivator out on the pitch.

‘He started in the junior ranks at the club and has been in and around the first team since the age of 18.

‘Now he is starting to reach his prime and can be very influential for us.’

Chandler is expecting a forward-orientated contest at Chelmsford but believes his team are fully equipped to deal with that.

He has been impressed recently by his front five who have provided a solid platform for his team.

This has been a key factor in Portsmouth’s revival.

In dreadful conditions last weekend, Portsmouth started to show what they are capable of with a thumping league win over KCS OBs.

‘The players showed just how hard they are prepared to work for each other,’ said Chandler.

‘They all combine to bring the best out of each other.

‘There is a terrific camaraderie in the squad and there are good vibes in the club at the present time.’

In the previous round of the Intermediate Cup, the Hilsea-based club comfortably dealt with London two south east opponents Charlton Park but expect north east division hosts Chelmsford to be a tougher nut to crack.

Chandler will be hoping to avoid some of the travel problems that beset his side in the last round.

‘We got lost deep in the London suburbs,’ said Chandler.

‘Our car got lost in Wandsworth and ended up by the London Eye and another took a wrong turn to finish on Embankment next to the Houses of Parliament.

‘This time we are ditching the sat navs and getting the maps out.

‘We are hoping team manager Michelle Green will give us a more direct route to Chelmsford this time.’

If Portsmouth can win tomorrow it will put them in the semi-finals of the London division section and a step closer to a Twickenham final.

‘We are not considering the idea of playing at Twickenham just yet because there are a few games to go,’ said Chandler.

‘I would love to see the team step out on the hallowed turf because they deserve it.

‘It would be a tremendous achievement and a great reward for all their efforts.

‘But that’s a long way off yet.’

Portsmouth: Harris, Carpenter, Richards, Chandler, Gee, Neville, O’Connor, Sargeant, Houlihan, Hankey, Crabb D, Richardson, Crabb J, Farmer, Morgan, Cutting, Fookes, Long, Ansell.