Portsmouth warned to keep ‘eye on the ball’

Cameron Duffus is back for Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123574-2)
Cameron Duffus is back for Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123574-2)
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Havant chief rues missed opportunity

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Portsmouth will bid to get back on track as they entertain KCS OB’s at Rugby Camp in London two south west tomorrow (2.30pm).

Ian Chandler’s team were left stunned last weekend after they conceded a last-minute try to lose against league leaders Sutton & Epsom.

It ended a run of six successive wins and the head coach is now looking for his team to pick themselves up and go again.

‘We were gutted,’ said the Portsmouth chief.

‘It was more galling because we were the better side throughout the game.

‘We have come away, though, focusing on the performance which was the big positive.

‘This team has improved so much since the start of the season and there has been a complete turnaround.

‘The players have worked hard and are starting to listen and learn.

‘The biggest lesson learned is they have to earn the right to play their rugby at the start of any game.

‘After doing so well it is important we keep our eye on the ball for this one.’

Chandler is aware that KCS OB’s – who are in the lower reaches of the league and adopt a no-training policy – can be dangerous opponents.

They already boast a win over league leaders Sutton & Epsom, leaving Portsmouth with little room for any complacency.

‘We can’t afford to take them lightly because they have a good set of players,’ said Chandler.

‘If they turn up and play they will give us a tough time and could turn us over.’

Portsmouth are boosted by the return of a number of key players, though.

Number-eight Matt Morgan, pacy full-back Curtis Barnes and scrum-half Cameron Duffus are all back in the ranks.

The return of Morgan, who has been away with the army, will give the Rugby Camp side’s pack extra pace, direction, power and speed.

‘The prospect of having Morgan and Rich Farmer in the back-row together is an exciting one,’ said Chandler.

Barnes, 19, has already been a match-winner this season and Duffus provides a good service from the base of the scrum.

‘We must look to get last week’s result out of our system, ideally with a bonus-point win,’ said Chandler.

‘The way this league is going we are still very much in contention.

‘Promotion won’t be decided until well into the new year and our aim is to remain in the mix and take it from there.

‘I am sure there are a few more twists and turns to come.

‘If we get ourselves right then we will do well.’

PORTSMOUTH: C Barnes, Carpenter, Richards, A Barnes, Chandler, Gee, Neville, Duffus, Sargeant, Houlihan, Cutting, Hankey, I French, Richardson, Farmer, Morgan, J Crabb, Foukes.