Portsmouth wary of surprises at Basingstoke

Gareth Fitzpatrick is unavailable for Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171564-1)
Gareth Fitzpatrick is unavailable for Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171564-1)
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Jim Pearce has warned Portsmouth of complacency as they travel to Hampshire rivals Basingstoke in London three south west tomorrow (3pm).

The hosts are bottom of the table without a win so far this season.

Pearce, however, is insisting third-placed Portsmouth cannot afford to take things for granted.

‘We know they have had problems at Basingstoke but they now have a new coaching set-up,’ said the director of rugby.

‘They are looking to recruit and lost a close game against Warlingham last week.

‘We can’t be certain what we will find ourselves facing and they could easily spring a surprise.

‘I don’t want to see that happen to us.

‘It is crucial we go there and stick to what we know.

‘If we play our normal game then hopefully we will come away with a good win.

‘We are also looking on it as an opportunity to bring in a few tweaks to the way we play.

‘I am looking for us to build on the game against Battersea when we had to grind out a result.

‘We had to make sure we carried on playing for the whole 80 minutes.

‘It had been a while since we’d had such a close-fought game.’

Portsmouth are forced to reshuffle their back-row for the clash.

Will Brock and Gareth Fitzpatrick are unavailable for the Rugby Camp outfit.

Jack Easterbrook is drafted in following an impressive performance for the second team against Tottonians.

The three-quarters remain the same as those that helped Portsmouth to a hard-fought win against Battersea Ironsides.

Meanwhile, the club’s Hampshire Bowl semi-final against Millbrook has been cancelled after the Southampton outfit withdrew from the competition.

The tie was scheduled for Saturday, December 23.

Portsmouth will now face Trojans in the final of the competition at the beginning of February.

‘It is disappointing because we were looking forward to the pre-Christmas game,’ added director of rugby Pearce.

‘We are still in the RFU Intermediate Cup and we are third in the league.

‘So things are bubbling along nicely.

‘It means we will have a busy start to the second half of the season.

‘With this in mind we will be training over the festive period to make sure we are ready.’