Desire key to Gosport glory

Ben Madigan scored the first try for Gosport & Fareham. Picture: Sarah Standing (141230-3554)
Ben Madigan scored the first try for Gosport & Fareham. Picture: Sarah Standing (141230-3554)
Luke Barfoot will make his 100th league appearance. Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant hope normal service will resume at home

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Neil McRoberts praised the desire and bravery of his Gosport & Fareham side after they edged to a 23-22 win over Guildford in a London one south thriller at Gosport Park on Saturday.

With two players in the sin-bin, the home side weathered an onslaught from the Surrey side at the death to claim a famous victory.

And McRoberts was delighted with the triumph.

‘Guildford are a top five side and right up there as one of the best teams in the league,’ said the head coach.

‘It is a measure of our performance that we have beaten them and it is so important after our disappointing defeat at Dover.

‘Last week we got beaten by a team that wanted it more than us but this week the boot was on the other foot.

‘This time we had players with the desire to want to do something and make a difference.

‘The other major factor was that – for the first time this season – we were ultra-mean and very uncompromising defensively.

‘Our players now need to actually realise just how good they are capable of being.’

Guildford were quick out of the blocks and opened up a seven-point lead in as many minutes at the start.

The home side refused to let that rattle them, however, and hit back to level through a Ben Madigan try which Wayne Dugan converted.

The two sides then swapped penalties before the hosts went in front for the first time.

A great kick ahead by fly-half Sam Foster saw the ball sit up kindly for chasing Fijian flying winger Vetaia Veiteve to celebrate his return with a try. Dugan converted to give the home side a 17-10 lead after 32 minutes.

But Guildford again showed their durability to haul themselves level.

After the break, two more Dugan penalties gave the home side a 23-17 lead and set up a nail-biting finale.

In the final 10 minutes, Gosport conceded a penalty try and had two players yellow-carded but stood firm under great pressure to hold out.

‘There has never been any question that we can go forward when we are on top,’ said McRoberts.

‘The question marks have been against whether we can defend against a good side.

‘On Saturday we showed we are capable of it and now need to do more of it until the end of the season.

‘If we do, then we will get more results like this.

‘The team meeting and the warm-up were the most focused I have seen from the players before a game.

‘They knew they had something to prove after last week.

‘The word squad is important because we lost five players who were unavailable and we didn’t look any weaker because of it.’

The win takes McRoberts’ side 12 points clear of the relegation zone – providing them with a bit of welcome breathing space.