Tough test for Portsmouth at Tonbridge

Will Brock is back in the frame
Will Brock is back in the frame
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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Portsmouth face their biggest test of the season when they travel to runaway London South One leaders Tonbridge Juddians.

The home side have lost only once all season and are odds-on favourites for promotion.

The Hilsea-based club are under no illusions as to the difficulty of their task but don’t believe it is mission impossible.

‘We are going there to give it our best shot,’ said defiant Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler. ‘The nice thing is we have nothing to lose because everyone expects us to lose.

‘Our plan is to move the ball around quickly because they have a big set of forwards.

‘Our forwards may also be a little more mobile and, if we can keep the ball away from their powerful front five, we are capable of running them close.

‘We will go there with nothing to fear.’

The visitors will field a much-changed line-up because of a host of injuries and the decision to rest a few players.

In the front-row, Dan Sargeant and John Nicholls are both ruled out through injury, while Nick Lynch and Chris Goldsmith are unavailable.

Wing-forwards Adam Long and Will Brock return after missing last week through illness and Nick Leach re-appears from his Portsmouth Grammar School duties.

It is all change at half-back where James Botten and Phil Cartmill come in for Andy Young and Mitch Graham.

Ben Whitley is rested, with Will Carpenter returning to the full-back berth.

Portsmouth: Carpenter, Hazeldine, Hodell, Ealey, Gates, Cartmill, Botten, French, Hoolihan, Hankey, Crabb J, Leach, Brock, Long, Lloyd, Bion, Baber, Rolfe.