Portsmouth need ‘big performances’

Curtis Barnes is set to return for Portsmouth
Curtis Barnes is set to return for Portsmouth
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 hoping to launch their quest for London two south west survival when they travel to London Cornish tomorrow.

The Rugby Camp club are desperate to avoid a repeat of their nightmare at Old Alleynians last weekend.

They ended up suffering a 62-13 hammering.

That came after their preparations were disrupted as they had to make late changes to the line-up.

Already badly hit by unavailability, they also suffered further injuries during the game.

Portsmouth go into the final six games of the season occupying the second relegation spot.

It means the closing weeks are likely to be tense.

The mission is to overhaul Effingham & Leatherhead, who are three points ahead of them.

And manager Nigel Morgan is still confident the side have the quality to stay up.

Portsmouth have two games in hand on their Surrey rivals and will face them at Rugby Camp, so their destiny is very much in their own hands.

However, they have some tough battles ahead.

‘The last thing we want is a repeat of last weekend which wasn’t much fun,’ said manager Nigel Morgan.

‘Anything that could go wrong did go wrong and we were well beaten.

‘It turned out to be a long day.

‘We have got a few players coming back in so we should be a lot stronger.

‘It is a tough two weeks ahead, with fourth-placed London Cornish followed by league-leaders Guildford next weekend.

‘We are convinced we can stay up but it is going to take some big performances from us.

‘Our fate is still in our hands and the games against Effingham and bottom club Teddington will be crucial.’

Portsmouth have received a massive boost with the return to the country of talented three-quarter Chris Morgan.

The ex-Hampshire cricketer has been working away in Dubai.

But he has returned to the south coast and slots straight in at scrum-half to replace the injured Bobby Owens.

Having the experienced Morgan in such a pivotal position is likely to improve the Portsmouth decision making.

Morgan will also take over the kicking duties.

That should solve a problem that has hindered the team in recent matches.

The visitors can also field their regular centre partnership of Gareth Richards and Dan Gates.

Pacy winger Curtis Barnes is expected to return to provide another boost for the team.

Morgan is also hoping outside-half Lee Chandler will have recovered from the shoulder injury that forced him off at Alleynians last week.

‘London Cornish are a decent side and are not fourth for nothing,’ said Morgan.

‘When we played them earlier in the season, the game was close until the latter stages when they ran away with it.

‘We have to make sure we put last weekend behind us and go up there looking to play some rugby to get a result.’

Portsmouth: Harris, Barnes, Richards, Gates, Norman, Chandler, Morgan, Cumming, Hoolihan, Anawya, French, Giquel, Fooks, Long, Phillips. Replacements: Nicholls, Evans, Burgess-Kelly