Wells back troops to deliver in ‘massive game’

Wayne Dugan is back for the crucial clash. Picture: Roger Smith
Wayne Dugan is back for the crucial clash. Picture: Roger Smith
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Mark Wells believes his young Gosport & Fareham side will rise to the challenge of closest-rivals Wimbledon tomorrow (3pm).

The Gosport Park outfit are 10 points clear of the visitors at the top of London two south west.

A win will virtually guarantee promotion for the home side, while also putting one hand on the division’s crown.

But Wells is refusing to take Wimbledon lightly and is well away of their threat.

With that in mind, the head coach has branded the clash the club’s biggest since they played in a Twickenham final 10 years ago.

And in an interesting parallel, Wells is set to hand the returning Dave Goddard his first appearance since that cup final at the home of rugby.

‘If we win, then we are almost certain to be promoted, so it is a massive game,’ he said.

‘It’s our biggest game since the Twickenham final against Halifax.

‘Wimbledon are very dangerous and I am nervous about this one.

‘Although we beat them 20-8 at their place earlier in the season, I felt we punched above our weight on the day.

‘Seventy-five per cent of that game was played in our half but we played some of our best rugby to win.

‘Our defence was excellent but Wimbledon have more to offer.

‘I still don’t know what my young side are capable of achieving, though, because they have succeeded in everything I have pushed at them so far.

‘Since I took over last season they have won 27 out of 28 games and continue to surprise me.

‘I won’t make the mistake of underestimating how good this side can become.’

Gosport have the luxury of a 10-point lead over Wimbledon at the top but have a tougher run-in to the end of the season.

Defeat tomorrow would open the door for the south London side to pip them to the title.

Wells has been forced into shuffling his pack ahead of the crucial encounter.

While powerful army full-back Goddard is added to the squad, he is set to make two changes to his starting line-up.

Wayne Dugan returns to the centre, which allows Jonathan Wood to move to wing-forward in place of the unavailable Chris Thompson.

Gareth Jones is recalled on the wing in place of Sammy Speigh, who is playing rugby league for the army.

‘It will be a great achievement to get promoted,’ said Wells.

‘This side are good enough to play at the next level and have proved that over the season.

‘The future looks bright at the club and we have to make sure we maintain the depth.

‘We have a very good under-16 side coming through and will look to bring some of them into the senior fold next season.

‘It is all about building an infrastructure around this squad.’

Gosport & Fareham: Vance, Thorne, Dugan Wayne, Foster, Jones, Duncombe, Dugan Wes, Pickett, Clark, Whitehead, Smith, Pollard, Madigan, Wood, Flower, Burton, Snowden, Goddard.