A battered and bruised Gosport & Fareham came through a physical test to beat Dover 33-10 in London one south at Gosport Park.
Head coach Neil McRoberts was delighted with the improved physicality of his team.
‘That’s more like it,’ he declared.
‘Dover were a very physical side with a big pack of forwards.
‘There has always been a little bit of a question mark about whether we can perform when things are going against us.
‘We showed we can front up when we have to. In the first 20 minutes of the second half, we knuckled down and coped with a lot of pressure. That’s very encouraging.’
The return of navy duo Tom Blackburn and Chris Thompson from their New Zealand tour made a big difference in the home forwards.
In a fractious game there were five yellow cards – two for the hosts and three for the visitors.
Gosport made the perfect start with prop forward Blackburn crashing over inside three minutes.
Wayne Dugan converted and midway through the half the home side extended their lead with one of their best tries of the season.
Winger Kieran Darrington combined beautifully with Wayne Dugan in a move that started in their own twenty-two.
Dugan added another penalty but the hosts conceded a try in first half stoppage-time.
‘We just switched off and a catalogue of errors cost us,’ said McRoberts.
‘It showed the importance of concentrating for the whole 80 minutes.’
That try gave Dover encouragement and by the 50th minute they had moved to within eight points.
Gosport then showed great character to re-impose themselves on the game.
Scrum-half Wes Dugan scored from a quickly-taken tap penalty and his brother knocked over another kick.
Gosport made sure of the bonus point in stoppage-time as Mark Pollard scored.
Wayne Dugan was on target with the kick to finish with a tally of 18 points.
‘We have a lot of battered bodies,’ said McRoberts.
‘But normal business has been resumed.’