Portsmouth cup charge rocked by missing men

Dan Stoneman has been called up. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123574-1)
Dan Stoneman has been called up. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123574-1)
Reuben Knight finds space to run in one of Havant's nine tries. Picture: Neil Marshall (180422-190)

Knight: We’ll be back

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Portsmouth are forced to ring the changes as they visit Brighton in the London semi-finals of the RFU Intermediate Cup.

Injury and unavailability has robbed the Rugby Camp outfit of their entire first-choice back-row.

Richard Farmer and Jason Crabb are recovering from knocks, meanwhile Adam Long is absent.

Their unavailability has opened the door for Dan Stoneman, Maxim Rassat and Rob Gicquel.

And while Ian Chandler is frustrated to be without key players, he is sure his side will put on a good performance at their south coast rivals.

‘We are blighted by injuries and it is something we could well do without,’ said the Portsmouth coach.

‘This will be a difficult game for us because Brighton are top of their league and a good side.

‘We are determined to go there and give it a good go, though.’

Portsmouth suffered a crushing loss at the hands of Guildford in the league last weekend.

The defeat came as something of a shock for the side, who are determined to mount a late promotion push.

Chandler admitted he was surprised by the defeat but insisted he will not panic.

‘It would be far too easy to overreact,’ he said.

‘But we have not become a bad side overnight.

‘We have to put it down to a bad day at the office and as long as we learn from it we will be okay.’

Elsewhere, United Services are on the hunt for revenge as they entertain Millbrook in Hampshire division one.

The showdown has been switched to Clarence Field because Burnaby Road is being used by the Royal Navy’s rugby league side.

Services lost a tight encounter 26-22 at Millbrook earlier in the season.

Coach Simon Burns is expecting another close affair.

But he revealed confidence is high in the home camp after last week’s excellent win at their fellow promotion-hopefuls Andover.

That 13-10 success saw Services leapfrog their hosts into third – just five points behind second-placed Fordingbridge.

Burns said: ‘We’ve worked hard on the back of last week’s good performance and are ready.

‘With the launch of a full-time academy this week the foundations have been set for the future.

‘These are exciting times for us as a club.’

Dave Reed comes in for injured hooker Andy Tart and Luke Osborne steps up into the second row for the unavailable Tom Lewis.

This allows new signing Paul Davis to start at number eight.

‘Davis has come into the area from National League side Chinnor and is a fantastic addition,’ said Burns.’

Jake Webster and Will Blackett are unavailable, so Neil McRoberts starts at outside half again with Lee Mellor in the back-row.

Southsea Nomads welcome Chineham to Furze Lane for a Hampshire two clash.

‘We are hoping to turn it into fortress Furze Lane between now and the end of the season,’ said Nomads president Colin Few.

‘Four of our next five games are at home, so hopefully we can push for a better position in the league.’