Gosport & Fareham hoping extra graft pays dividends

Tom Blackburn. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143652-300)
Tom Blackburn. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143652-300)
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Gosport & Fareham have put overtime in on the training pitch ahead of their London one south clash against Dover at Gosport Park (2.30pm).

The home side are hoping the extra coaching will pay dividends as they look to halt their losing run.

It is a big game for both teams, who occupy the bottom two places in the league.

A win for the home side would see them leapfrog Dover and out of the basement slot.

It was the players who requested the extra session on the coach coming back from their 34-17 defeat at the hands of league leaders Sutton & Epsom.

Coach Neil McRoberts insists it shows the determination and commitment of his players to put things right.

Though they came away from south London empty-handed, McRoberts was more than encouraged by the performance of his team.

‘It was a massive improvement on previous games particularly the one at Tottonians which was a low point for us,’ said McRoberts.

‘At Sutton all the players were focused from the start and we competed for long periods of the game.

‘We felt a few harsh decisions went against us which told in the end.

‘The mood on the journey home was very positive and it was the players who asked for an extra session during the week.

‘The players asking for an extra training session is a signal of their intent.

‘They want Dover to feel the full force of their frustrations at Sutton when they played well but got nothing.

‘All of them stepped up and showed their unity when it would have been easy not to do so.

‘It would have been so easy for them to splinter and fragment with us being in such a difficult place.

‘Instead they stepped up and showed real unity and resolve.’

The home side have lost prop Tom Blackburn to Royal Navy duties but his loss is mitigated by the timely return of Ben Lanigan to the front row.

Lanigan has missed the last few weeks for family reasons but his return will boost the home pack.

The powerful prop forward is a class scrummager, a strong ball-carrier and also makes some big hits.

‘Ben has played National League rugby with Penrith up north,’ said McRoberts.

‘It is a shame we can’t play him and Tom Blackburn together until a few weeks time when we play Havant.’

Apart from the switch at prop forward, Gosport name an unchanged side from the one which performed well at Sutton & Epsom.

Sam Foster is still ill and Wayne Dugan is still probably a week away from returning after breaking his hand.

‘We are expecting a tough, brutal game against Dover but the players are well up for that,’ said McRoberts.