IT WAS heartbreak for Gosport & Fareham’s young guns as they lost 15-13 after a last-ditch Beckenham try.
Director of rugby Mark Wells was forced to field three 17-year-olds for the London one south trip.
They acquitted themselves superbly and Gosport were closing in on a remarkable victory – until a late call went against them.
Skipper Matt Smith was yellow carded after going up for a high ball and Gosport paid a heavy price.
Down to 14 men and under pressure on their own line they could not hold out.
Wells said: ‘Their lad came down hard but our player went up to win the ball.
‘I am not one to criticise referees but two or three crucial decisions didn’t go our way and this was one of them.
‘We were very unlucky and the players were gutted at the end.
‘The players deserve a lot of credit for their performance and deserved to win because we were the better team for most of the game.’
With 12 players unavailable, Gosport called on teenage talents Ben Roberts and Sean Shepherd in the forwards and Tom Lewis at full-back. And they all impressed.
‘They didn’t just fill the gaps, they added a whole new dimension to the team,’ said Wells.
‘They played better than some of the regulars who have been occupying those places.
‘Only two players in our team were over 25 years old and that augurs well for the future, whatever happens this season.’
Josh Whitehead gave Gosport a 13th-minute lead with a penalty.
But Beckenham grabbed the advantage with a try just before the break.
A dropped pass in midfield allowed the home winger to pick up and race half the length of the pitch to score under the posts.
Gosport winger Gareth Jones put his side back in front with a 66th-minute try.
And Whitehead added the conversion to give the visitors a 10-7 advantage.
The two sides then exchanged penalties, leaving Gosport going into the final minute with a three-point lead only to suffer late heartache.