Underdogs won’t roll over

Dan Stoneman
Dan Stoneman

Portsmouth out to turn tables on Cranleighans

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Relegation-THREATENED Portsmouth are ready to fight for their lives as table-topping Guildford arrive at Rugby Camp in London south-west two.

Few will give the city club much chance against the Surrey outfit who have only been beaten once all season.

The visitors also showed their pedigree last week when they won the final of the South & South East Intermediate Cup – putting them into the last four of the National competition.

Portsmouth are under no illusions to the difficulty of the task they face but are determined not to roll over and surrender.

‘We are targeting getting something from the game in the form of a bonus point,’ said first-team manager Nigel Morgan.

‘That means we have to look to score four tries rather than anything else.

‘Although we lost heavily at Guildford earlier this season, for the final 20 minutes it was all us.

‘That was when we took the game to them and we will have to do that again from the start this time.

‘We know that if we allow them to dictate the game they have the quality to tear us to shreds.

‘Our coaches, Sid Street and Mike Hoban, have adopted the policy that we have nothing to lose and will go out there and give it a go.

‘Basically, we are looking for a performance aimed at picking something up.’

The home side are boosted by the return of two experienced forwards in the shape of second-row Mark Redding and number eight Dan Stoneman.

Redding has been away working and Stoneman’s involvement has been limited by family commitments.

If they can help Portsmouth compete up front then the hosts might have half a chance.

Lee Norman also returns on the wing.

‘It is a big game and we will be fired up for it,’ said Morgan.

‘If we go out with the attitude that we are going to get beat it will be a long afternoon.

‘However, if we are prepared to get stuck in and take the game to them it could be interesting.

‘We must look to exploit any complacency in their ranks.

‘It will be important to start on the front foot and make life as difficult as we can for them.’

In the Hampshire one, United Services Portsmouth face a make-or-break game at Farnborough in their bid to keep alive their promotion dream.

Defeat to league leaders Andover last weekend put a dent in their ambitions but director of rugby Simon Burns insists that the issue is far from settled.

‘We need to get back on the winning track but there is still all to play for,’ said Burns.

‘Other teams are slipping up and a win will put us right back in the frame.

‘Farnborough is never an easy place to go to with their Army contingent.’

Forwards Will Rolfe and Will Blackett, along with centre Tommy Cantwell, face fitness tests.