Gosport out for derby redemption

Dan Neville will return at outside-half for Portsmouth: Picture: Mick Young
Dan Neville will return at outside-half for Portsmouth: Picture: Mick Young
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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A full-blooded London two south west derby is on the cards when Portsmouth and Gosport & Fareham go head-to-head at Rugby Camp (3pm).

Portsmouth were crowned Hampshire champions last season after seeing off their neighbours in the cup final.

But tomorrow’s visitors intend to exact full revenge by grabbing the all-important league points at stake this time around.

Battles between the two sides are usually close, and Gosport head coach Scott Ashley is predicting more of the same.

‘Over the years there has rarely been more than two or three points between the teams,’ he said.

‘In the cup final last season we failed to do ourselves justice.

‘Some of our players who had not experienced this local derby atmosphere before were caught like rabbits in the headlights.

‘They will be better for that experience and ready for the intensity of the occasion.

‘Both teams will have good support and it will be a bit of a cauldron in front of a big audience.

‘We know that we will have to earn ourselves the right to play our rugby.’

Following last season’s relegation from London one south, Gosport began this campaign with a good win at newly-promoted Weybridge Vandals.

They displayed good defence when needed and an ability to make their attacks count.

‘It was good to start with a win but we are nowhere near the finished product,’ added Ashley.

‘Games like this often boil down to one incident so it is important that we remain level headed.

‘Portsmouth lost their first game so will be coming at us like a wounded animal.’

Ashley is boosted by the return from injury of experienced forward Tim Snowden, who will make his season’s debut.

Portsmouth, under new coaches Mike Hoban and Sid Street, went down to defeat in their first game at Tottonians.

However, the duo remain upbeat, believing the in the team performance on the day.

‘We created lots of opportunities but lacked the accuracy to take them,’ said Hoban.

‘If we had taken them we would have been in a far more competitive position.

‘We may have the bragging rights over Gosport from last season but that will count for nothing.

‘They have just been relegated and we will give them the respect they deserve.

‘Our side is young and in transition but we are looking to get something from the game.’

The influential Dan Neville returns at outside-half.

This enables Lee Chandler to move into the centre to counter the physical threat of the visitors in that area.

‘We want to put last week behind us and move forward,’ added Hoban.

‘Having Dan back in the key position will give us a bit more control in areas of the game.

‘We will need Lee back in the centre to deal with the big powerful running Gosport centres.’