Gosport & Fareham primed for crucial Tonbrigians test

Barry Bridgman regards Gosport & Fareham's London two south west meeting with Old Tonbridgians at Gosport Park a must-win game.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 2:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th March 2018, 3:49 pm
Gosport & Fareham head coach Barry Bridgman. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180183-1)

The hosts are looking nervously over their shoulder at the relegation battle.

‘This has to be an absolute five-pointer and a very important game,’ said head coach Bridgman.

‘Otherwise it is going to be a nervy end to the season.

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‘A win will help take some of the pressure off.

‘Earlier in the season we lost at Old Tonbridgians but it was a game we could and should have won.

‘On that day our defence let us down, so that is an area we must tighten up.’

Fareham Heathens go into their Hampshire one home clash with the Isle of Wight with a full-strength squad.

Head coach Dave Wheaton said: ‘We always have a tough battle against them and Saturday will be no different.

‘We know nothing more than a win will do to maintain our league position.’

The game doubles as the Mike Blow Memorial Trophy – with Heathens defending the silverware named after their founder member who died in 2016.

Director of rugby Bernie Rhodes added: ‘We will be honouring Mike Blow and I know this will give the lads additional incentive to perform well.’

Hooker Andrew Burns could return to the squad and Cam Guthrie is likely to start at full-back in the absence of Jashan Solanki.

Back-row Laurence Cox also returns and big South African forward Jarrod Hulett is back in the pack having been out for more than a year.

Locks Heath Pumas face a difficult Hampshire two fixture at rivals Southampton.

Acting head coach Kent Streek said: ‘Confidence is high and we have regained our mojo following a few disappointing results before Christmas.’

Pumas again field a settled side – boosted by the return of Jonathon Elsmore at number eight.

Ben Angell and John Pearson make the bench.

Pumas are third – just in front of rivals Southampton but level on 41 points.