Pearce: Home advantage key to Portsmouth survival bid

Portsmouth Rugby Club assiant coach Jim Pearce
Portsmouth Rugby Club assiant coach Jim Pearce
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PORTSMOUTH head into their final London Two south west home game against Old Reigatian tomorrow (3pm) with their fate hanging in the balance.

The hosts are perched precariously three points above the relegation zone with just two games left to play.

With rapidly-improving Andover and Effingham & Leatherhead snapping at their heels, Portsmouth have it all to do to stay up.

The situation is all too familiar for Portsmouth.

Two years ago they repeated a great escape in the last game of the campaign at Old Alleynians to keep them up.

Assistant coach Jim Pearce accepts Portsmouth need to win if they want to give themselves a realistic chance of avoiding the drop.

And Pearce insists home advantage could be the clincher.

He said: ‘It is not a new situation for us.

‘We must show the same commitment and resolve to maybe do the same again.

‘This is a massive must-win game.

‘We must look to maximise our home advantage.

‘It couldn’t be any tougher for us finishing the season with games against the third and second placed teams in the league.

‘If we don’t win this one then it will put us in a very difficult predicament.

‘Effingham & Leatherhead are playing Warlingham, who have not won a game all season, and we expect them to pick up five points.

‘But we cannot rely on other teams and must look to do what we need ourselves.

‘Although Reigatian are third, they have lost seven games this season so they are not unbeatable.’

Senior coach Ben Dudley and Pearce have seen their efforts plagued by injury all season.

And over half of their first choice squad remain unavailable for Saturday’s crucial match.

Prop forward Ryan Wilkie is ruled out after getting concussed playing for Hampshire against the Royal Navy.

Influential line-out jumper Rob Giquel is also missing after being injured at KCS Old Boys.

In the three-quarters, scrum-half Alex Duffus is unavailable and the vastly experienced Dudley is considering playing himself in the centre.

With the number of absences, Pearce has admitted his side will need to dig deep if they are to save their skins.

‘We are down to the bare bones,’ said Pearce.

‘Despite that, we feel we are capable of getting the result we need.

‘There is bound to be some nerves and butterflies because of our situation.

‘It is up to us to harness the adrenaline and make sure we keep our composure.

‘We also need to take our chances.’