Deadly Portsmouth aim to finish the job

Matt Gronow. Picture: Mick Young (124186-13)
Matt Gronow. Picture: Mick Young (124186-13)
Ryan Wilkie in possession for Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Portsmouth rise to call for ‘heart and desire’

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Portsmouth head into their final London two south west game at Old Reigatians prepared to fight for their lives.

The Rugby Camp outfit go into the game occupying the final relegation berth – two points behind closest rivals Trojans.

The Southampton-based club, however, have already completed their fixtures, so a win will keep Portsmouth up.

‘Our fate is in our own hands and we know exactly what we have to do,’ said director of rugby Ed Neville.

‘We need two points but have to go up determined to win the game. There is no margin for error.

‘At training this week the players showed they are up for this one.

‘There is a belief in the squad that they can win and keep us up.’

Portsmouth’s season has been blighted by a series of injuries to key players.

They are again hit by the loss of their number eight Will Phillips with fractured ribs.

It means Rob Gicquel moves into that berth with the returning Darren Crabbe filling the gap.

The visitors also draft back in their 40-year-old centre Matt Gronow.

Gronow yet again returns from vets rugby to spearhead the Portsmouth attack.

‘It is remarkable how he keeps coming back for the cause,’ said Neville.

‘Even now he is still one of if not the deadliest finishers at our level.

‘He can leave defenders for dead with his pace and his defence is also very solid.’

With the pace of Curtis Barnes on the wing, Portsmouth believe they possess the finishing power to get the result they need.

‘We don’t know what to expect from our opponents at this stage of the season,’ said Neville.

‘We have to focus on what we have to do.

‘If we can get off to a good start then it will ease the nerves a bit.

‘We will aim to take the game to them and impose ourselves.

‘At times this season we have not got the results our performances deserved.

‘This game is all about the result. It is important the club stays up.’

Portsmouth (from): Harris, Barnes, Gates, Gronow, Jones, Chandler, Morgan, Cummins, Hoolihan, Douglas, Osi, French, Crabbe D, Stoneman, Long, Gicquel, Bowen, Richardson