Bridgman: Plenty more to come after away relief

Gosport & Fareham's Sean Shepherd. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171571-1)
Gosport & Fareham's Sean Shepherd. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (171571-1)
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Gosport & Fareham survived a nail-biting finale to claim their first away win in more than two seasons.

The Gosport Park outfit held their nerve to hang on for a 19-18 London two south west win at basement club Effingham & Leatherhead.

Barry Bridgman felt his side were not at their best but was pleased to finally see them chalk up a success on their travels.

‘I am happy to see us break the away duck and get it out of the way,’ said the head coach.

‘To be honest, though, others seemed to worry more about it than me. I don’t care as long as we are winning – home or away.

‘We didn’t play particularly well and were nowhere near as good as we were against London Exiles.

‘Our problem was we didn’t seem to know how to play for territory.

‘We would put together eight or 10 phases and then get turned over and lose the ball.

‘There was a need for us to bring the top two inches into play and to be a lot smarter.’

On a bitterly cold afternoon, Gosport & Fareham started strongly and took the lead after just six minutes.

Good handling in the three quarters was finished off by right-winger Shaun Taylor – who crossed for a try near the corner flag. Wayne Dugan expertly added the conversion.

The hosts, who are fighting for their lives at the foot of the table, responded well.

Their veterain outside-half used his experience to keep Gosport pinned in their own territory with some perfectly judged kicking.

And while the visitors defended well, they could not break the stranglehold.

Effingham & Leatherhead slotted a penalty and then took the lead with a good try in the corner.

The game remained tight but Gosport regained the initiative after hacking the ball up the field for Wayne Dugan to flop over the line.

Effingham & Leatherhead added a second penalty to leave Gosport 14-11 in front at the break.

A powerful start to the second half enabled Bridgman’s outfit to stretch their lead, though, with number eight Sean Shepherd bursting over.

Effingham & Leatherhead ensured an exciting finish on 62 minutes when they reduced the deficit to a point with another try.

‘The last 18 minutes were to and fro and we ended the game inside our own twenty-two,’ said Gosport & Fareham’s head coach.

‘It was all becoming very tense and Effingham were never going to give it up.

‘Eventually they knocked the ball on – and from the resulting scrummage we were able to kick it off the park.

‘There is still a lot more to come from us.

‘Having got the away win, we must now look for another at Eastleigh in our next game.’