Pearce expecting another tight contest against Trojans

Jim Pearce
Jim Pearce
Jack Easterbrook will start for Portsmouth at Petersfield. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Portsmouth are gunning for back-to-back derby victories

Gareth Fitzpatrick is unavailable for Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171564-1)

Portsmouth wary of surprises at Basingstoke

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Portsmouth return to action following the mid-season break with an intriguing London three south west derby against Trojans at Rugby Camp tomorrow (2pm).

The third-placed hosts start the weekend three points ahead of their Eastleigh-based rivals, who are fourth.

When the two sides met in the reverse fixture earlier this season, Portsmouth just edged the contest.

Jim Pearce is predicting another tight affair against Trojans.

The club’s director of rugby has challenged his troops to play at a higher tempo.

And with leaders Old Emanuel facing second-placed Old Cranleighans, he believes it’s a chance for Portsmouth to close the gap at the top.

Pearce said: ‘If we want to win this one then we will have to concentrate and do what we do well.

‘The top two sides are also playing each other so it is a chance for us to claw points back on them.

‘We are looking to change things up a bit and play with a greater tempo.

‘The players know the style of game we look to play and need to be better at it.

‘We will keep working on individual skill sets.

‘Whatever conditions we come up against, if we get the basics right it shouldn’t matter to us.

‘Hopefully, we can surprise a few teams with the way we are looking to play.’

Second-row forward Darren Leggott and winger Sully CauCau are unavailable for Portsmouth.

However, Pearce is also hoping to have captain Darren Crabb back at the end of the month.

He added: ‘In our first game against Trojans we let in two late tries. We were also guilty of some handling errors, which cost us a few scores.

‘If we can right those wrongs then we should be able to come away with a positive result.’

Meanwhile, in Hampshire one, unbeaten leaders United Services Portsmouth host basement club Ventnor at Burnaby Road.

Services, who rattled off 11 straight wins in the first half of the season, have a two-point lead at the top ahead of second-placed Bognor.

It will be hugely disappointing for the home side if they deliver anything less than a bonus-point win against Ventnor, who have conceded over 600 points to date this season.

Southsea Nomads travel to Chineham in Hampshire two.

The visitors have renewed confidence after defeating leaders Locksheath Pumas in their last game.