McRoberts: Gosport preparation spot on ahead of opener at Chobham

Neil McRoberts

Neil McRoberts

Darren Bamford's hat-trick wasn't enough for Havant against Sidcup. Picture: Kieth Woodland

Havant coach positive despite play-off misery

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Gosport & Fareham face a daunting start to their London one south campaign at last season’s runners-up Chobham (3pm).

Though the Gosport Park outfit finished in mid-table last year, it wasn’t until the final day that they ensured they would not be relegated.

Coach Neil McRoberts believes his side have learned a few lessons from that.

He is confident they are better equipped for the season ahead.

‘Last season showed us we cannot afford to allow opponents possession and space to play at you,’ said McRoberts.

‘At this level if you can keep a grip on the game then you stand a chance of getting something out of it.

‘We showed that when we picked up losing bonus points against top sides like Wimbledon and Chobham.

‘If things become a bit loose then teams will punish you harshly.’

McRoberts has already had his players back for 11 weeks of preparation this summer and is hoping the move will pay dividends.

He keeps the nucleus of last season’s squad and has also managed to attract some new faces to provide extra quality.

Prop forwards Ben Lanigan, who has played for Cumbria and Workington, and Justin Powell, ex-Havant and United Services, have arrived to bolster the Gosport pack.

In the backs, Alex Cooksley, who has National League experience with Loughborough Students, has come in and he makes his debut at Chobham.

He will be an exciting addition.

Navy rugby league 
centre Max Boyce is also set to join.

But his registration is unlikely to go through in time for him to play for Gosport this weekend.

‘It is always difficult to recruit here on the south coast where there isn’t a large number of players to go round,’ said McRoberts.

‘We remain a largely home-grown club.

‘The new faces who have come in have done well and I think we are all set to go.

‘We are also pleased to have the likes of experienced figures such as Chris Thompson and Mark Pollard committed for another season.

‘We are about as prepared as we can be and feel we are as strong as can be expected.’

The visitors are without captain Tim Snowden, who is ruled out by a groin injury.

They are also without new arrival Lanigan, who is unavailable.

Gosport & Fareham: Heron, Cleary, Dugan Wayne, McRoberts K, Penfold, Cooksley, Dugan Wes, Blackburn, Collard, Powell, Pollard, Woodford, Robets, Page, Thompson. Replacements: Gamblin, Trivett, Brawn

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