Portsmouth keen to right some wrongs at Cornish

Rob Gicquel. Picture: Allan Hutchings (141111-796)
Rob Gicquel. Picture: Allan Hutchings (141111-796)
Ryan Wilkie in possession for Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Portsmouth rise to call for ‘heart and desire’

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Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler is under no illusions about the difficult task his team faces at London Cornish in the RFU Intermediate Cup (2.30pm).

The hosts are top of London three south west and already boast a 53-23 win over the Rugby Camp outfit this season.

Chandler admits he is more interested in the performance rather than the result.

‘We are going there with nothing to lose,’ he said.

‘Their big pack of forwards caused us problems in the last game but we do have a couple of players back.

‘It hasn’t been easy and we are licking our wounds at the moment.

‘This game will indicate how much we have improved since we last played them.

‘It is a good game for us because it allows us to give our returning players some game time ahead of the upcoming league matches.’

Chandler is boosted by the return of captain Rob Gicquel and Darren Crabb to the forwards.

Gicquel is back after a trip to Barcelona.

The 21-year-old captain is Portsmouth’s line-out specialist, while Crabb will add a physical presence to the team as a no-nonsense forward.

Ian French and Greg Houlihan are also back after missing the first game against London Cornish.

‘We have got a few more experienced heads in the forwards who were missing the last time,’ said head coach Chandler.

‘But unfortunately we are a little bereft in the three-quarters because of unavailability.’

The Rugby Camp club will need to tighten up their defence if they are to avoid another heavy defeat.

It is frustrating for Chandler as they defend 
well for long periods 
before making individual errors.

‘We are conceding far too many points at the moment,’ he said.

‘Our results have not reflected the performances because of that.

‘We keep suffering losses of concentration and spells of defensive madness which are costing us games.

‘Defensively we have been guilty of conceding soft and stupid tries.

‘It is an area we need to improve.’