Portsmouth told to expect hostile Vandals reception

Curtis Barnes. Picture: Neil Marshall (171321-76)
Curtis Barnes. Picture: Neil Marshall (171321-76)
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Portsmouth are not expecting a warm welcome when they visit Weybridge Vandals in London three south west on Saturday.

Director of rugby Jim Pearce described their Brownacres home as a ‘very hostile’ place to visit.

But he is calling on his troops to rise to the occasion as they aim to keep the pressure on the leading duo in the table.

‘Weybridge has been a very hostile place to go in the past,’ said Pearce.

‘They have a very partisan home following.

‘The best way of dealing with that is to impose ourselves on the game early.

‘We will also have to be prepared to keep going for the full 80 minutes.

‘It is an important game for us because there is still all to play for.

‘We want to keep the pressure on the two sides above us.

‘Both the top two still have to come to our place in the run-in.

‘It is vital we keep hold of a winning mentality.

‘Weybridge are at the lower end of the table, so I would like to think we can come away with a win.’

Portsmouth are forced to make a number of changes in their three-quarters.

Gareth Richards is unavailable so Simon Morgan moves from scrum-half to outside half, while Alex Duffus reappears at number nine.

In the absence of Mark Ovens, Tom Whitehouse comes in on the wing.

And Curtis Barnes moves from wing to full-back in order to cover for the missing Matt Farnes.

‘It is important – with five winnable games left – we don’t let things slip,’ added Pearce.

Unbeaten United Services host Sandown & Shanklin at Burnaby Road in Hampshire one (3pm).

Rich Neil regards the visitors as dangerous opponents.

‘We had a close game against the Hurricanes at their place,’ said the United Services player-coach.

‘Recently they also had an excellent result against Millbrook.

‘We have had a two-week break but all the players have trained hard and are refreshed.

‘It is time to kick on to the finish line with four games left.

‘If we win this one and then again against Millbrook next week then we are as good as there.’

Services boast a 100-per-cent record in the league and hold a 10-point lead at the top.

Southsea Nomads are without a game in Hampshire two.