It’s time for Gosport & Fareham to show their true quality when they host Dover in London one south tomorrow (3pm).
The Blue & Golds have lost their past three matches, including a 60-15 defeat to Basingstoke last weekend.
But head coach Neil McRoberts believes the return of some key players will ensure Gosport are ready to get back on track.
He reckons they are far better than their lowly league position suggest.
McRoberts said: ‘At this level you need to have your big players but unfortunately the last few weeks we have not had them.
‘Thankfully we have a number of those players back this weekend and it should make a big difference.
‘Our three Royal Navy players are back from New Zealand and a couple of others are returning from injury.
‘We were a little hard done by at Basingstoke and didn’t deserve to lose by such a big margin.
‘There were enough positives from the game to give us a good platform against Dover.’
Chris Thompson is back in the forwards, while props Tom Blackburn and Mark Jones will also be in the squad after missing out recently.
All three are influential players and will increase the physicality around the breakdown.
This is an area McRoberts feels his team have come up short in.
Dover possess a big pack of forwards and the home side will need to compete in the loose.
The returning trio are not just good at cleaning out in those areas but are also three of the biggest ball-carriers in the team.
‘We have not had them for the last month and they have been badly missed,’ said McRoberts.
‘It is no coincidence that our slump has coincided with their absence.
‘They are players who can cause a lot of damage to the opposition midfield, helping us get over the gain line.’
McRoberts is also boosted by the return from injury of full-back Tom Lewis and outside-half Sam Foster.
He feels if his side can repeat the application they showed at Basingstoke they will give themselves every chance.
What he doesn’t want is a repeat of their last performance at home when they suffered a disappointing defeat to Sutton & Epsom.
McRoberts knows there is still a long way to go this season.
‘We are regarding that as a blip.’ said the head coach.
‘Apart from that occasion we have been competitive in every other game.
‘The league is a marathon and not a sprint and there is a long way to go.
‘We just have to make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball particularly at the breakdown.
‘It is vital we get enough possession, which will allow us to play our rugby.
‘Our brutal training sessions in the week have been designed to drum that home to the players.’
Gosport & Fareham: Lewis, Heron, McRoberts, Wayne Dugan, Barrington, Foster, Wes Dugan; Blackburn, Gamblin, Jones, Pollard, Wakefield, Osborne, Snowdon, Thompson. Replacements: O’Donohue, Roberts, West