Gosport primed for judgement day

Ashley Burton is action for Gosport & Fareham in the victory over Guildford earlier this season. Picture: Sarah Standing (113233-3510)

Ashley Burton is action for Gosport & Fareham in the victory over Guildford earlier this season. Picture: Sarah Standing (113233-3510)

Dan Sargent scores for Hampshire against Warwickshire. Picture: Keith Woodland (17064-492)

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Gosport & Fareham are facing the moment of truth in their London two south west title challenge.

The Gosport Park side travel to play league leaders Guildford in a crucial showdown tomorrow.

The two teams are locked on 79 points at the top of the table, but the Surrey side hold the advantage of a game in hand.

Gosport & Fareham, however, are aiming to complete a league double over Guildford – having inflicted the only defeat on their hosts earlier this season.

‘It is a massive game for both teams,’ said Gosport & Fareham head coach Scott Ashley.

‘We have always known this game will largely decide where the title ends up.

‘It is the top two teams in the league going head-to-head with a lot at stake.

‘We need to win if we are to keep the pressure on Guildford, and even then our fate will not be in our own hands.

‘Since Christmas we have lacked a degree of consistency because of injuries and unavailability.

‘We can’t afford to go into this one with anything less than our A game and it is a big challenge

‘All week we have been sending texts to players making sure they are available, focused and firing on every cylinder.’

After remaining unbeaten in the first half of the campaign, Gosport & Fareham have been far less convincing since Christmas.

A shock defeat at lowly Effingham & Leatherhead and a draw at Winchester dented their title hopes.

They got back on the winning track with a triumph over Old Alleynians last weekend but know they have to step up their game again against Guildford.

In contrast, Guildford have been the model of consistency since losing at Gosport Park.

The first meeting between the two sides was a tight affair, and the same looks on the cards this time.

The home side play a very controlled, physical game – sucking in the opposition, before hitting them with pacy three-quarters.

Gosport & Fareham must deal with this if they are to upset them again.

‘Solid defence will be essential if we are to compete,’ said Ashley.

‘We are the underdogs and every single member of our team must go out there with the intent to win their personal battles.

‘It’s time to stand up and be counted – and if we are to get a result we will have to play with passion and heart.

‘Games like these are often decided by the minor detail and an element of luck.

‘It could rest on one accurate pass or kick and we have to make sure we get them right.

‘For once, the weather forecast is good, so we could be in for a cracking game of rugby.’

The winners of the title are automatically promoted into London one south, with the runners up going into the play-offs.

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