Portsmouth out to turn tables on Cranleighans

Ryan Wilkie in possession for Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Portsmouth rise to call for ‘heart and desire’

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Portsmouth are hoping to make it third time lucky against Old Cranleighans in their London three south west clash at Rugby Camp tomorrow.

A win over the title favourites would give the Hilsea-based side, who sit third in the table, a significant boost and help fire up their promotion bid.

The south London visitors have already defeated Portsmouth twice this season – once in the league and once in the RFU Senior Vase.

Both those losses were away, though. This time around, Portsmouth have home advantage on their side.

They head into the game defending an unbeaten Rugby Camp record in the league this campaign.

Jason Ford believes his troops are capable of reversing their fortunes against second-placed Old Cranleighans.

‘Both the games between the two teams have been competitive,’ said the forwards coach.

‘We know Old Cranleighans are top for a reason and they have developed a winning habit.

‘They will come to us looking to secure the treble.

‘That is something we don’t want to happen and have been working hard to stop them.

‘In the Vase game, there was only six points in it.

‘We conceded tries at the start of both halves and were not out of the blocks quick enough at the kick-offs.

‘If we are to beat them, then we also need to be far more clinical.

‘We had the match of them up front and threatened on a number of occasions outside.

‘Our last pass or the last movement let us down.

‘We failed to convert our chances. If we play our style of rugby and take our chances then we can beat them.

‘We won’t get many opportunities, though, so we have to make them count.’

The home side are hit by a number of players being unavailable.

Mark Ovens, Luke Simmons, Luke Peters and Tom Whitehouse are all missing.

However, Ford reckons his squad now has the strength in depth they didn’t have previously.

Portsmouth trail leaders Old Emanuel by seven points.

They know they need nothing less than a success to maintain the pressure at the top.

Ford added: ‘A win will keep us in the melting pot.

‘It will keep the pressure on Old Emanuel, who have to come to us in the final game of the season.

‘Whatever happens we have had a good season.

‘It would be good for the club if we were to go back up. The higher up you are the easier it is to attract players.’

n It is also a big weekend for Portsmouth Valkyries. They host Battersea Ironsides in the semi-final of the RFU Junior Cup at Rugby Camp on Sunday (2.30pm).