Gosport target momentum

Alex Duncombe
Alex Duncombe
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Gosport & Fareham start a crucial period in their London one south survival bid with a Hampshire derby against Basingstoke at Gosport Park (2pm).

Neil McRoberts’ side currently sit third from bottom in the table following their defeat at Sutton & Epsom last time out.

And the coach believes the next three games – against Basingstoke, Twickenham (home) and Dover (away) – will have a big bearing on their future.

‘I don’t think it is a huge overstatement to say it is a huge three weeks for us,’ said McRoberts.

‘It won’t define the rest of our season but it will either leave us in a good place or well and truly up against it.

‘We must make the most of our next two games at home to pick up momentum ahead of the long trip to Dover.

‘Our home games are massively important and could prove the key, with our away form being so poor.

‘Having said that, we performed well at Sutton & Epsom to score four tries against one of the top sides.

‘Apart from gifting them three tries, we matched them all game.

‘I am convinced we are not too far away from getting everything to click together.’

Second-from-bottom Basingstoke will present Gosport with a tough challenge tomorrow because their position below the home side in the league table is very misleading.

The visitors are only in the relegation battle because of off-the-field problems which led to a 15-point deduction by the Rugby Football Union.

In reality they are a top-half side and McRoberts knows that is what his team will be facing.

‘We know Basingstoke have some very good players and we have to make sure that we start well,’ added McRoberts.

‘If we can tighten up our defence and be a bit meaner when we have the ball we can soon turn the draws and defeats into wins.’

McRoberts is forced to make a couple of changes from the team who did well in the defeat at Sutton.

Outside-half Sam Foster is unavailable due to police duties but, fortunately, Alex Duncombe is able to slot into the gap.

Up front, navy under-23 hooker Harrison Marsh comes in, with Mark Jones dropping to the replacements bench.

Ben Roberts moves from the back-row into the second row, with Ed Pascoe switching to blindside wing-forward.

The hosts are also hoping winger Tom Lewis can pass a fitness test on his foot to continue his partnership with the promising Dom Holling on the other wing.

Meanwhile, Fareham Heathens are optimistic of completing a league and cup double over visitors Isle of Wight at Cams Alders.

Heathens needed extra-time to beat the Islanders 8-5 in last week’s cup game across the Solent.

The home side are without Ollie Whitfield, who broke his hand in the cup game.

Unbeaten Hampshire two leaders Locks Heath Pumas should be too strong for winless hosts Southsea Nomads at Furze Lane.

Pumas coach Jim Pearce is without a number of first-choice players but the visitors should still carry too much fire-power for the basement side.