Gosport aim to home in on survival bid

Gosport's Ben Madigan is back
Gosport's Ben Madigan is back
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Neil McRoberts is calling for more home heroics from Gosport & Fareham against Guildford in their London one south contest at Gosport Park.

The Blue & Golds away form has been dire.

But McRoberts’ team have performed well at home and they need to continue that form to avoid dropping into the relegation zone.

‘Losing at Dover last weekend makes this a big game for us,’ said Gosport head coach McRoberts.

‘We came away from Dover with nothing because our opponents wanted it more than we did.

‘The team failed to produce the intensity of their previous two games and didn’t work hard enough in defence.

‘It is important we change that against Guildford because they are a very good side.

‘They are fifth in the league and have already inflicted a heavy defeat on us at their place earlier in the season.

‘We did score three tries against them, though, and showed we could match them in spells.

‘The players can also take confidence from the fact we beat them 15-12 at home in a tight encounter last season.

‘That game was played largely between the two 15-metre lines and up the middle of the pitch.

‘If that is what’s required again then that is what we must do.’

McRoberts is forced to make a number of changes because of holidays, work commitments and unavailability.

Mark Jones shifts across to prop from hooker to replace Tom Blackburn.

Captain Tim Snowden moves into the gap at hooker.

The home side welcome experienced wing-forward Ben Madigan back.

Craig Chance continues on the other flank after making a good debut.

In the three-quarters, winger Alex Heron is back and ex-Northampton Old Boys full-back Jack Brawn makes his debut.

Fijian Vitali Leca makes his first appearance since October because of injury amongst the replacements.

‘Despite the disappointing Dover defeat, January wasn’t a bad month for us,’ said McRoberts.

‘We picked up 11 points from the 20 on offer.

‘Once again it will be important to get out of the blocks quickly against Guildford to get on the front foot.

‘We need to be ultra-aggressive in defence and not allow our opponents any leeway.

‘If we can do that then it will give us a platform to go on and win the game.

‘We have to have the nouse to close games down for spells when we need to and can’t afford to give away any cheap yardage.

‘Guildford have lost their last couple of games.

‘So we must make Gosport Park as uncompromising as we can.

‘It is vital we get something from this game.’

Gosport & Fareham: Brawn, Heron, McRoberts, Wes Dugan, Penfold, Foster, Wayne Dugan, Gilmartin, Snowden, M. Jones, Pollard, Roberts, Chance, Thompson, Madigan. Replacements: O’Donohue, Daly, Leca.