Expect skulduggery! Portsmouth and Havant vets ready to battle for cup success

Ian French is in to boost the Portsmouth team. Picture: Duncan Shepherd  (180339-002)
Ian French is in to boost the Portsmouth team. Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180339-002)

Fierce-rivals Portsmouth and Havant will be aiming for glory when they meet in the final of the Hampshire RFU Veterans Cup at Rugby Camp.

A titanic tussle is expected on Saturday (1pm).

Portsmouth are unbeaten so far this season and have high hopes of regaining the trophy after Havant's domination in recent seasons.

The hosts have lifted the John Sneezum Trophy on three previous occasions, the first coming in 2006.

Portsmouth captain Ben Di Marco believes his side stand a good chance of repeating those successes.

He said: ‘With the injection of some “younger” players into the vets squad this season, including ex-first team regulars Ian French and John Nichols we hope to lift the cup.

‘As with most veterans sides training is frowned upon and spectators can expect to see a physical encounter.’

The derby clash will also act as a farewell to Portsmouth stalwart prop forward David Jones.

He is looking to bow out on a winning note in his final match for the club before setting off for a spell of sabbatical teaching in Japan.

Di Marco is expecting a big crowd at Norway Road.

It is the only rugby game in Portsmouth this weekend.

The hosts reached the final by winning 19-10 at Winchester while Havant had a walk-over against New Milton who couldn't raise a side.

Havant Mariners captain James Hewett is equally determined to see his side retain their crown.

He said: ‘It is a repeat of last season’s semi-final which we edged in a very tight game.

‘We have won it for the last two years and are attempting to equal Portsmouth’s record.

‘Though we have generated the momentum we know our opponents will be desperate to win.

‘We won’t be able to take anything for granted if we want to keep hold of the bragging rights.

‘With so many of the players having played with and against each other over the years we can expect fierce competition and skulduggery from the start.’

Hewett will have a difficult job selecting his team with availability high.

Among the players available he has four former first team captains and more than 500 National League appearances from the back division alone.
Havant legend 60-year-old Brian Marsh will be involved and will aim to play his part in attempting to take the cup for the fifth time.

England versus Australia will be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse after the final.