Gosport push strong hosts hard to earn a bonus

Scrum-half West Dugan. Picture: Roger Smith
Scrum-half West Dugan. Picture: Roger Smith
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A disappointing 43-25 defeat for Gosport & Fareham at Sutton & Epsom saw them drop into the London one south relegation zone.

The visitors never looked like getting their first away win in 13 months against their high-flying hosts.

But director of rugby Scott Ashley took some positives from the game.

He feels the team worked hard to secure a valuable bonus point and laid down foundations that will help them in the battles ahead.

Ashley said: ‘We put some building blocks in place for three really big games coming up.

‘Yes, we have dropped into the bottom three but we do have a game in hand and I’m not too worried.

‘We picked the bonus point up and they are vital.

‘I still believe we will be fine and our effort and commitment proves we are good enough to stay in this league.

‘The lads did really well against one of the best sides in our league, matching them in every area.’

Gosport trailed 24-7 at half-time, with their try coming in the 31st minute from impressive debut-making second-row forward Ed Pascoe.

Wayne Dugan added the conversion and kicked a penalty three minutes into the second half.

The home side, with the help of a couple of interception tries, gradually pulled away.

But Wes Dugan hit back with a 56th-minute try for the visitors.

Gosport refused to give up and were rewarded with two tries in as many minutes, through Kieran Darrington and 18-year-old winger Dom Holling.

Ashley felt his men delivered a strong second-half display.

He also praised Pascoe, who caught the eye.

‘They were probably more aggressive than we were in the first half, especially in the breakdown,’ said Ashley.

‘Sutton definitely won the first half but we turned that around and won the second period.

‘Ed Pascoe had an outstanding game and for me he was man of the match for us.’

Ashley was delighted Gosport never conceded the match was beyond them.

He added: ‘Sutton are a good, well-drilled, clever team and the last try they scored was exceptional.

‘Unfortunately, we suffered from the two interception tries they scored.

‘We kept up with them, though, and it proves to me we are good enough to stay in this league.

‘They said it was one of the hardest games they’ve had this year and, to our credit, we didn’t give up in a very physical but entertaining game of rugby.’

Locks Heath Pumas were far from happy, despite beating Overton 31-3 to maintain their unbeaten record in Hampshire two.

Coach Jim Pearce felt the league leaders were well-below par, showing some post-Christmas cobwebs.

He said: ‘The game showed we didn’t do enough collectively during the Christmas break.

‘Our first-half performance was our worst yet this season.

‘We led by only 12-3 at half-time because we kept kicking the ball away against the wind.

‘When we started to use our runners, then we made it count.’

Outside-half Ben Chambers scored all the home side’s first-half points, with two tries and a penalty.

In the second half, winger Stuart Forbes grabbed a hat-trick of tries to confirm the Pumas’ superiority as they cruised to victory.