Gosport go for revenge... Portsmouth eye repeat

Gosport & Fareham try scorer Ben Madigan. Picture: Roger Smith
Gosport & Fareham try scorer Ben Madigan. Picture: Roger Smith
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Neil McRoberts believes Gosport & Fareham have a point to prove against Portsmouth in their Hampshire Cup semi-final at Rugby Camp tomorrow (2pm).

When the two sides met in the final a couple of seasons ago the Blue & Golds were bitterly disappointed with the nature of the defeat they suffered.

On that day they felt they failed to perform anywhere near their real ability.

And they are determined not to make the same mistakes this time.

Gosport head coach McRoberts is fielding his strongest available side in a bid to grab back the local bragging rights.

‘There are a number of players in our squad who played in that last game at Rugby Camp,’ said McRoberts.

‘It is a game a lot of the guys still don’t feel great about.

‘They went into it as favourites but didn’t perform.

‘As a result they were well beaten by a better Portsmouth team on the day and that is something they want to put right.

‘The Hampshire Cup is something we take seriously even in these days of league rugby.

‘We feel it is important to support your county rugby and rivalry between the local clubs is a very important part of it.

‘After winning it for the first time four years ago we want to do so again after being beaten in two finals.’

The teams have the added incentive of knowing the winners will host the final against Havant at the end of the season.

McRoberts has named an unchanged side after the win against Guildford.

That was a good result for the team in London one south and they will be aiming to build on it with another success tomorrow.

‘It is important we maintain the continuity after beating Guildford,’ said McRoberts.

‘We showed we can more than match the top teams in our league when we play for the whole 80 minutes.

‘Traditionally our games against Portsmouth can be quite fiery affairs and physically demanding.

‘We will have to display the same aggressive defence that served us well against Guildford.’

For Portsmouth, the cup comes as a welcome relief from their relegation struggles in London two south-west.

Director of rugby Nigel Morgan has intimated, though, that avoiding relegation remains their main priority.

‘Staying up in the league is most important because we know there is a reorganisation planned in the near future,’ said Morgan.

‘When that happens we need to be as high up the ladder as we can.

‘Having said that, though, we never want to lose games against neighbours Gosport & Fareham.

‘Apart from resting a few players who are carrying knocks, we will put out our strongest team possible.

‘If we can play with the same intensity we did in recent games against Tottonians and London Cornish we can compete with anybody.’

PORTSMOUTH: Cantwell, Hopkins, Jansen, Gates, Harris, Richards, S. Morgan, Cummins, Hoolihan, Smith, Reddin, Heffernan, Fooks, Hill, Clark.

GOSPORT & FAREHAM: Brawn, Penfold, McRoberts, Wayne Dugan, Leca, Duncombe, Wes Dugan, Gamblin, Snowden, Blackburn, Pollard, Roberts, Chance, Madigan, Thompson.