Portsmouth won’t be ‘Christmas turkeys’

Ian Chandler. Picture: Mick Young
Ian Chandler. Picture: Mick Young
Steve Cruddas will start for Havant. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Matthews: Unbeaten streak key to Havant’s promotion charge

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Ian Chandler insists he will take a competitive side to Chelmsford in the RFU Intermediate Cup – despite opting to rest a number of key players.

For the Portsmouth coach, promotion back into London one south is the priority.

But he refuses to write off their chances in the cup.

‘We are taking a good squad side rather than a full first team,’ said Chandler.

‘Our league ambitions have to come first and, with that in mind, we are resting a few players.

‘Some of our players are carrying knocks and we don’t want to risk losing them for the important league games in the new year.

‘We have got ourselves into a good position and it would be silly to throw it away. Our aim is to go to Chelmsford and give it a good go.

‘Our front five is very strong and we can still come back with a result.

‘We have no intentions of going up there to be the Christmas turkeys.’

Portsmouth rest outside-half Dan Neville and centre Will Carpenter, with Cameron and Sandy Dufus drafted in.

The visitors are boosted by the return of Mark Peters and Sam Morgan from university.

The original clash between the two sides was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

And if the game goes ahead, it is likely to be on a quagmire of a pitch.

That could suit Portsmouth, whose pack of forwards have proved a tower of strength this season. Prop Dan Sargeant is the league’s leading tryscorer with 14.

He has shown a remarkable knack of being in the right place at the right time.

‘The forwards have provided a superb platform and the backs are also starting to come to the party,’ said Chandler.

‘We still need to be more ruthless in that area, though.’

Portsmouth boast an unbeaten run that stretches back 12 games and has seen them rekindle their promotion prospects.

‘We have got into a winning habit and it would be nice to keep it going,’ said Chandler.

Portsmouth: Barnes C, Dufus S, Barnes A, Chandler, Harris, O’Connor, Sargeant, Hoolihan, Hankey, French, Richardson, Giquel, Long, Crabb J, Cutting, Crabb D, Peters, Morgan