Gosport shrug off physical Tottonians threat

Sean Shepherd got the ball rolling with Gosport & Fareham's first score. Photo Roger Smith.
Sean Shepherd got the ball rolling with Gosport & Fareham's first score. Photo Roger Smith.
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Gosport & Fareham came through a tough physical challenge with flying colours to beat third-placed Tottonians 34-15 in London two south west.

The win saw Scott Ashley’s side extend their lead to four points at the top and maintain their unbeaten record.

Tottonians, who boasted a huge pack of forwards, attempted to batter their way through the Gosport defence.

But the home side stood up to the test at Gosport Park.

Once the visitors had been contained they had no answer to the hosts’ more mobile and fluent game of running rugby.

‘It was a massively brave performance because Tottonians arrived with a game plan to smash their way through,’ said head coach Ashley.

‘We were giving away three stone a man to their front row alone.

‘From the start they used their big men as battering rams through the middle and it was a huge test of courage for my players.

‘There were times when they had us under the cosh but we stepped up to the mark and our defence was superb.’

Tottonians received early encouragement with a 10th-minute penalty to take the lead.

But once the home side started to move the ball around they began to struggle.

On 15 minutes Chris Thompson screamed through the middle and good off-loading saw 18-year-old Sean Shepherd score under the posts.

Fellow 18-year-old Tom Lewis converted the try.

And from that point onwards the hosts took the game by the scruff of the neck.

By half-time further tries from Wayne Dugan and Tim Snowden helped take Gosport into a 19-3 lead.

‘I didn’t feel we were in any danger of losing at that point because we were dictating the pace and moving them around the pitch,’ said Ashley.

‘We went to sleep a little at the start of the second half, though, and allowed them back into the game.

‘But, importantly, after that we took charge again to run out good winners.’

The outstanding Lewis showed great individual skill to score a try out wide.

And he soon tightened his side’s grip with a penalty from under the posts.

Dugan put the icing on the cake with a late try which was successfully converted by the immaculate Lewis.

‘It was a tough game of rugby but it showed we can stand up to some tough physical punishment,’ said Ashley.

‘The players stuck together on Saturday.

‘They looked after each other against a team that are third in the league.

‘We are in a good position now going into our big derby next weekend against Portsmouth.

‘A big crowd is expected – with a sold out Christmas lunch.

‘And we will be going all out to complete the double over our closest rivals.

‘Our aim is to remain unbeaten going into the Christmas break and to start the new year at the top of the league.’