Portsmouth go to Trojans in bowl determined not to be empty handed this season

Tim Snowdon, left. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Tim Snowdon, left. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
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Portsmouth turn their attention to cup action with a visit to Trojans in the semi-finals of the Hampshire Bowl.

Senior coach Neil McRoberts is keen for them to bounce back on Saturday from their disappointing league defeat at Warlingham.

The two teams have met twice already in the league with Portsmouth coming out on top in both games.

McRoberts is hoping they can complete the hat-trick but expects it to be tough.

He said: ‘In both our previous games against Trojans we have had to work hard to get on top of them.

‘I don't see it being any different this time around.

‘Trojans are a well coached outfit with plenty of quality players.

‘We know we have to be on top of our game if we are to beat them.

‘It is a bit of a crossroads for us because we are still involved on three fronts.

‘What we don't want to happen is to end up empty handed.

‘To win the game we have to start well.

‘That is something we didn't do at Warlingham where we didn't start playing until it was far too late.

‘What you do at the start of a game sets the tone for the rest of it.

‘We have to be prepared to get in their faces early and impose our game on them.’

Not surprisingly the visitors make a number of changes both in personnel and positions.

Powerful prop forwards Ben Lanigan and Rhys Bingham come into the front row.

Bingham made his debut for the England Deaf team last week.

Portsmouth field a completely different back-row.

Royal Navy under 21 forward Johnny Stoppard makes his senior debut at number eight.

He has Tim Snowden and Jasper Pickersgill either side of him on the flanks.

Captain Darren Leggott is nursing an injury and misses out.

The Duffus brothers Cameron and Alex form the half-back pairing.

Jordan Hunter moves from the wing into the centre where his strong running could prove an asset.

As the season heads towards the business end McRoberts believes the key to success will be in the mind.

He added: ‘We know we have the quality but need to make sure that we get it mentally right.

‘After losing at Warlingham we know there is little room for manoeuvre in the league.

‘We can't afford any more slip ups if we are to get back into that second spot.

‘There is still a lot of rugby to be played.

‘Winning in the bowl will give us the lift we need.’