Twickenham debut would be fantastic – first Portsmouth must focus on RFU Senior Vase south-east title

Portsmouth are preparing to compete for the RFU Senior Vase south-east title and move another big step closer to Twickenham.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 12:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 1:06 pm
Luke Simmons will switch to the wing for Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland (160219-292)
Luke Simmons will switch to the wing for Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland (160219-292)

The Rugby Camp side host Chelmsford on Saturday in the regional final (2.30pm).

Victory will ensure home advantage in a play-off with the south-west winners for a place in the national final at Twickenham.

Senior coach Neil McRoberts sees it as a fantastic opportunity for the club.

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He said: ‘Our focus at the moment is solely on beating Chelmsford and taking the south-east title.

‘It is a huge game for both teams.

‘With the winners being at home again at the next stage it gives us a great chance.

‘The club has never played at Twickenham before and it would be a fantastic experience.

‘It isn’t very often that players at level eight get the chance to run out on the hallowed turf.

‘For now though we have to concentrate on winning this game.

‘It is a cup match and there fore you need to approach it slightly differently to a league game.

‘In the league you play for the win and then look for bonus points.

‘This is different and just about winning on the day.

‘It is about winning and not the manner in which you do it. It is important to keep the scoreboard ticking over in every which way you can. Tries, penalties,or dropped goals it doesn't matter.’

McRoberts is also aware of the importance of starting well, something his side has not always achieved this season.

He is looking for his side to impose themselves from the start.

The head coach added: ‘We must look to stamp our authority.

‘Apart from starting well we also have to make sure our defensive structures are in place.

‘We achieved that in our win against Old Georgians last weekend.

‘If we can limit Chelmsford’s chances then we will give ourselves a good chance.

‘I have every confidence in the players.

‘When they play to their full potential I would back them against any team at our level.’

Portsmouth will make a few changes.

Cameron Duffus comes in at outside-half to bring an added degree of pace to the attack.

The experienced Matt Farnes is at full-back with Luke Simmons switching to the wing.

The forwards are unchanged.

Both teams look to be closely matched on paper.

Chelmsford are fourth in London three Essex while Portsmouth sit third in London three south west.

McRoberts feels that his team not knowing too much about the opposition might be a positive.

He added: ‘It means we can focus on our own game and what we do well.

‘Also we can’t get too hung up over things we don’t know.’