A HEROIC effort from Gosport & Fareham saw them push London one south powerhouses Chichester all the way before losing 33-24 at Gosport Park.
The visitors eventually held sway but underdogs Gosport went very close to casting aside the form book.
They scored four tries and picked up a bonus point for their efforts.
Late withdrawals left the home side in trouble but they never gave in and midway through the second half the scores were level at 19-19.
The Sussex visitors looked to be starting to panic but eventually were able to take control.
Stand-in coach Scott Ashley was proud of his team’s commitment and attitude.
He believes the performance shows Gosport can mix it with the big boys in the division and have nothing to fear in their battle for survival.
‘Though we lost, afterwards we felt we had achieved something special with that performance,’ said Ashley.
‘The bonus point is vital and we could have got two.
‘It shows we are capable of competing with the best in our league and we still have players to come back in.
‘It was a superb effort and everyone of our players on the pitch stepped up to the mark.’
Gosport could have been forgiven for feeling a little sorry for themselves when they had to make late changes to their line-up due to late blows.
But they stood tall in adversity and delivered on their promise not to give Chichester an easy ride.
‘Our preparations were a nightmare as we lost two front row players to injury and unavailability an hour before the kick off,’ added Ashley.
‘You could tell that Chichester had come expecting to win easily and that is always a dangerous thing to do at Gosport Park.
‘We went at it aggressively, defending for our lives and latching on to their mistakes to counter-attack.
‘It was a full-blooded, passionate encounter that spilled over on a couple of occasions.
‘We never allowed Chichester to get away and kept them within reach until the very end.
‘There was also plenty of good quality rugby as we didn’t allow them to dominate.’
The game had a fiery opening which saw Gosport’s Chris Thompson and a Chichester player sin-binned within a minute of the start.
Though the visitors grabbed a fifth-minute converted try, the home side soon levelled matters.
Winger Gareth Jones crossed and Josh Whitehead converted.
It remained a close contest for the rest of the first half.
Gosport answered another converted try by the visitors with a well-worked score for Wes Dugan before half-time.
A Whitehead try, which he himself converted, left the sides deadlocked, midway through the second period.
And though Chichester finally managed to pull away with two further scores the home side had the final word.
Winger Jones went over for his second try in the final minute to earn his side a well-deserved bonus point.