Gosport keen to boost survival hopes

Gosport & Fareham coach Scott Ashley is determined to cut out the defensive lapses that cost his side dear against Portsmouth in the Hampshire Cup last weekend
Gosport & Fareham coach Scott Ashley is determined to cut out the defensive lapses that cost his side dear against Portsmouth in the Hampshire Cup last weekend
Anthony Fooks. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-346)

Pearce: Best is yet to come from Portsmouth

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London One South survival is back on the agenda as relegation-battling Gosport & Fareham welcome Dover to Gosport Park (3pm).

Scott Ashley and the rest of his coaching team have the difficult job of lifting their players for this crucial league game.

Defeat in the Hampshire Cup final by local rivals Portsmouth last weekend left Gosport & Fareham deflated just when they need to raise their game for the league run-in.

Ashley admitted London two south west Portsmouth were the better team on the day and deserved their 16-6 success.

But that is all water under the bridge now in the coach’s eyes and he expects his players to move on and focus on lifting themselves out of the bottom three.

Gosport & Fareham are two points behind fourth-from-bottom Beckenham with three games left to play.

However, a win tomorrow could see them leapfrog their relegation rivals for the first time since early in the season.

‘We had a disappointing day at the office against Portsmouth,’ admitted Ashley.

‘Portsmouth were quicker out of the blocks and wanted it more than we did.

‘We did improve as the game went on, and with a bit better decision making in attack we could have scored a couple of tries.

‘It is our job now to lift the players for this vital league game.

‘We must take the positives out of the defeat and use them to motivate the team.

‘Apart from the two soft tries we conceded, our defence was very good.

‘Our line-out and scrummage got stronger but it needed to because we were far too weak in those areas at the start.

‘You could tell by the body language of our players how disappointed they were.

‘I’m sure they have gone away, looked at themselves in the mirror and will come back wanting to make up for their cup defeat.

‘This is a massive game against a good Dover side.

‘We have almost dug ourselves out of trouble because of the strength of the belief running through the team.’

With two of their last three games at home, Ashley is convinced his team can pull off a great escape.

He believes Beckenham have a tougher run-in to the end of the season and is convinced they can be overhauled.

At the same time he accepts his team will have to be at their most competitive in the final three matches.

They cannot afford to repeat the defensive lapses that cost them so dear in the cup final.

The return of Matt Smith in the forwards will bolster the line-out, but Ashley will have to do without exciting young full-back Tom Lewis who is sidelined by a knee injury.

‘We feel we can get the results we need to stay up,’ said Ashley.

‘It looks as though it could go down to the final game, though.’

Gosport & Fareham (from): Duncombe, Heron, Burns, Burton, Madigan, Thompson, D Whitehead, O’Donoghue, Cleary, G Jones, Clark, Field, Wood, J Whitehead, McRoberts, M Jones, Pollard, Flower, Smith, Thorne, Foster, Sheppard, Westerman, Wayne Dugan, Wes Dugan.