Portsmouth must not be bullied again

Matthew Farnes. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Matthew Farnes. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
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Neil McRoberts is urging Portsmouth not to be bullied in their London three south west match at Warlingham on Saturday.

The visitors are intent on turning the tables on their hosts who beat them at Rugby Camp earlier in the season.

That occasion was one of the few times this season Portsmouth found themselves bullied.

They weren’t strong enough on the day.

Head coach McRoberts expects no repeat of that.

He said: ‘We let them bully us from the first whistle in the first game.

‘That was what let us down.

‘It wasn't until the second half that we started playing and by that time it was too late.

‘This time we need to make sure we impose ourselves physically from the start.

‘By doing that we won't allow any doubts to sneak into our game.

‘Once we have achieved that then we can play our rugby.

‘The players are confident they can put things right from the first meeting.

‘Since the Christmas break we have returned with two good bonus-point wins.

‘It is vital we keep this momentum going and stay in second place.

‘We want to keep the pressure on league-leaders Winchester and not slip behind.’

Portsmouth show their strength in depth in the forwards by fielding a completely changed back-row.

Will Brock moves across to number six, Elliott Worrall comes in at eight and Anthony Fooks is expected to start on the open side.

In the three-quarters Dan Gates replaces the unfortunate Gareth Richards in the centre.

Richards suffered a serious leg injury against Trojans and is likely to be sidelined for a long period.

The experienced Matt Farnes comes in for Noah Cannon on the wing.

Cannon is on county duty with Dorset and Wilts.

McRoberts is hoping his team will be quick to adapt.

He added: ‘Despite the changes we can still field a strong side.

‘It will be important that we start well because of the number of new combinations.

‘We want to make sure we don't drop points through carelessness.’

Also in London three south west United Services Portsmouth visit Teddington looking to kick-start their season.

Rich Neil’s side have slipped back since the break failing to win their last two games.

Relegation battling Petersfield welcome third-placed Battersea Ironsides to Penns Place.

In Hampshire two Southsea Nomads entertain Basingstoke second team at Furze Lane (2pm).