Defiant coach refuses to write off Gosport survival hopes

Gareth Jones scored twice for Gosport & Fareham but it was too late to prevent defeat. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121161-8)
Gareth Jones scored twice for Gosport & Fareham but it was too late to prevent defeat. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121161-8)
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Havant's Rob Cuffe. Picture: Neil Marshall (171150-16)

Havant man on target in valiant Hampshire defeat

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Scott Ashley surveyed a disastrous 29-22 defeat at Old Colfeians and declared: It’s not over.

The Gosport & Fareham head coach looked on as the London one south’s bottom club dealt his side’s survival hopes a brutal body blow on Saturday.

Old Colfeians’ maiden victory of the campaign left Ashley’s troops still three points adrift of Havant – who sit in the first safety spot.

But while admitting his players had missed a huge opportunity to notch a third consecutive win and drag themselves out of the bottom three, he is refusing to give up on their escape bid.

‘This was the proverbial banana skin and we slipped up on it,’ said Ashley.

‘I am a bit stumped for words after this performance.

‘Old Colfeians were the better side on the day and deserved their win.

‘Our opponents were hungrier than us, if I’m brutally honest.

‘We didn’t do the basics properly and because of that we struggled.

‘It was one of those days when, whatever we did, it wasn’t going to work.

‘It’s not all over yet, though – there is still a long way to go.

‘Looking at the maths we are still very much alive.

‘It is vital we now channel our frustration, turn it into aggression and move forwards.

‘I still believe we are good enough to stay in this league but we won’t survive if we don’t perform better than this.’

The only consolation for Ashley and the Gosport & Fareham faithful was a bonus point for their four tries. The point saw them close the gap on nearest rivals Havant, who lost to Cobham, to three points.

It should have been so much more, though, after the visitors made a dream start.

Winger Dave Cleary raced over for a try inside the opening three minutes to give Gosport the lead.

Josh Whitehead added a conversion and the scene seemed set for the visitors to go on and inflict more damage.

And while three tries followed in the next 12 minutes – they were all scored by the home team.

‘We scored very quickly which, in hindsight, didn’t do us any favours,’ said Ashley.

‘Possibly our heads went up too quickly after that and we allowed them to hit back.

‘They caught us every time through the middle and our tackle count wasn’t good enough.

‘Too many players failed to come up to the mark.

‘We cannot afford to be too lackadaisical at the rucks.

‘We were far too flat-footed and there were not enough deep runners coming off the breakdown.’

Although Whitehead soon added a penalty, Gosport trailed 19-10 at the break.

Old Colfeians tightened their grip on the contest in the opening stages of the second period.

The kicked a penalty before another converted try put them in complete command.

In the final 12 minutes, Gosport & Fareham winger Gareth Jones grabbed a brace of tries and Whitehead added a conversion.

But it was a case of too little, too late for the strugglers.