Eight is magic number for Gosport

Gosport's Ash Burton. Picture: Sarah Standing (113233-3510)
Gosport's Ash Burton. Picture: Sarah Standing (113233-3510)
Portsmouth are back to league duty

Silverware winners Portsmouth target league charge

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Scott Ashley has targeted at least eight wins from Gosport & Fareham’s remaining 12 fixtures as they fight for London one south survival.

The head coach, who has taken over the role from new director of rugby Mark Wells, accepts his side face a huge scrap in the second half of the campaign to escape the drop.

They begin their battle with a mouthwatering derby against Hampshire rivals Basingstoke at Gosport Park tomorrow (2.15pm).

Wells and Ashley met up for a summit meeting over Christmas to set out a plan of action for the months ahead.

And they believe their young troops are well capable of delivering what is requested of them.

‘Mark and I have looked at our situation in depth and reckon we need to win 70 per cent of our remaining games to stay up,’ said Ashley.

‘It is obvious we have a real fight on our hands.

‘Our team is still very young – with an average age of just 22 years – but I still believe we are good enough to be in this league.

‘My gut feeling is we can do it but it will take a lot of hard work.’

Gosport begin the new year occupying the final relegation spot – third from bottom.

In the narrow defeat by Chichester before Christmas, Ashley’s side suggested they were finally coming to terms with the league after promotion last term.

They ran the second-placed Sussex visitors close before a massively-disappointing defeat at Havant.

Against the Hooks Lane outfit, they were caught cold at the start and it wasn’t until the game was effectively beyond them that they began to play to their potential.

‘We were asleep in the first half at Havant and they punished us,’ said Ashley.

‘In the end we lost by 10 points – all of which they scored before we turned up.

‘We should have left with at least a point and it was disappointing from our point of view.

‘Against Chichester we had played with a controlled aggression from the start and that is what we have to get back to.’

Basingstoke have the mental advantage over Gosport, having beaten them 53-0 in the third game of the season.

However, Ashley reckons his men have made great strides since then and will be a different proposition this time around.

And that will have to be the case if they are to get anything tomorrow.

‘We have to be at it from the start to get anything from this game,’ he added.

Gosport are still without second-row forward Matt Smith, though.

He is sidelined for at least one more week with a facial injury.

However, prop-forward Ash Burton is back in contention for the Gosport Park outfit.

Meanwhile, Fareham Heathens host Alresford at Cams Alders in Hampshire two.

Heathens go into the game determined to kick-start an upturn in fortunes after a disappointing first half of the season.