Gosport youngsters to be given chance to impress

Joey Clark

Joey Clark

British and Irish Lions' Elliot Daly, left, is tackled by Chiefs' Solomon Alaimalo during the tour match at the FMG Stadium, Hamilton

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Last season’s beaten finallists, Gosport & Fareham, open their Gales Hampshire Cup campaign against Southampton University Hospitals at Gosport Park (2.30pm).

Coach Mark Wells views the game as a great opportunity for some of his younger players and fringe members of his squad to stake their claim for a first-team place.

‘We are mainly fielding an under-23 side, with one or two more experienced heads,’ said Wells.

‘The fact that 10 of them played in the last first-team game shows where we are at.

‘This cup competition is a great chance for some of the younger players to get some more competitive rugby.

‘We have two 17 year olds coming out of the colts to play on our wings, our open-side wing-forward, Jack Basher, is only 18 years old and the side is captained by 20-year-old hooker Joey Clark.

‘Although it is a young team, we won’t underestimate our opposition, though we know little about them.

‘Two years ago we won the cup and last season lost to Basingstoke in the final.

‘Our priority this year, though, is survival in London One south division.

‘We have gone up into a league where the standard of rugby is much higher than many people at the club expected.’

Gosport & Fareham: Cleary, Lewis, Brew, Whitehead, Vi, Dugan Wes, Foster, O’Donoghue, Clark, Kitchener, Woodford, Pollard, Smith, Basher, Flower, Westerman, Jones.

Havant cross the Solent to start their cup trail against the Hurricanes of Sandown & Shanklin.

‘This is a competition we are taking seriously this year, and will send the strongest side available,’ said coach Will Knight.

‘It is a few years since we have done well in it so we are giving it our full attention.

‘We know from experience that sides like Sandown love to have a go at the senior sides and we expect a stiff test.

‘If we are not at our best we can easily come unstuck.

‘We have to go there, perform well and get a result.’

In the Hampshire Plate, Petersfield visit Alresford, and, in the Hampshire Vets competition, Portsmouth travel to Basingstoke & Chineham.

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