Young talent Barnes backed to lift Portsmouth

Andy Barnes scored a key try against Guildford thanks to fine work from Curtis Barnes
Andy Barnes scored a key try against Guildford thanks to fine work from Curtis Barnes
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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The emerging talent of young full-back Curtis Barnes is helping Portsmouth get their London south west two campaign back on track.

The 18-year-old played an influential part in the Hilsea-based club’s defeat of fourth-placed Guildford last week.

That was Portsmouth’s first win in four matches – and coach Ian Chandler believes there’s lots more to come.

Chandler hopes Barnes can continue his rich vein of form as they travel to basement side Camberley tomorrow (3pm).

‘Curtis has come up through our junior ranks and we have been aware of his potential,’ said Chandler.

‘We haven’t rushed him through but have tried to nurture his talent by playing him and resting him.

‘He is an exciting prospect for the future and can certainly go on and play higher.

‘Although he has played only five or six games, he has already scored three tries and set up a few more.

‘The lad is brave, quick and possesses a good awareness of what is going on around him on the rugby pitch.’

Against Guildford, Highbury College student Barnes set up an important try for his namesake Andy Barnes with a searing break from his own 22-metre line.

His most important contribution, though, came in a defensive role.

With Portsmouth leading 20-10, Guildford looked certain to score when Barnes produced an outstanding try-saving tackle.

‘If Guildford had scored then it would have put them right back in the game,’ said Chandler.

‘It was a game-changing moment because you could see in the Guildford faces that they felt their chance had been snuffed out.’

Having got back on the winning track, Portsmouth will fancy their chances of maintaining their excellent improvement at bottom club Camberley.

Chandler, though, is wary of his side slipping back into displaying their old failings against struggling opposition.

He insists his team must not throw away the opportunity to get a winning run going to climb further up the table.

‘It is all about how we go into a game where we are expected to win and I am looking for us to be ruthless,’ said Chandler.

‘We can’t afford to go into it thinking we have already won.

‘Against any team you have to earn the right to play your rugby and that is a lesson we are still learning.

‘The famous American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, said, “you don’t play the opposition, you only play yourself”, so you have to focus on your own performance.’

Prop forward Tom Hankey, much against his wishes, is being rested after breaking his nose and Sam Cutting, returning from Havant, is drafted into the squad.

Portsmouth are also without Sandy Duffus because of a knee injury.