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Gos torn apart by champions

The 1st XV's season ended with a ten try 64-7 defeat against ruthless champions Camberley yesterday in what was their biggest defeat of the season, leaving Gos a comfortable mid-table seventh in London 2 South West writes Brian Seeney.

Until the trip to Watchetts Recreation Ground, the biggest loss of the season for Gos was at home to Camberley in early November when the Surrey side were 19-55 winners.

With a National Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham coming up in a fortnight's time, Camberley didn't make the mistake of fielding an under strength side as they did the previous week and lost 17-22 at home to KCS Old Boys.

Instead they were at full strength and sharpened their claws for the trip to the home of English rugby by running riot against Gos in the second half.

"When they got going they tore us apart," said Head Coach Barry Bridgman, who was told in the week his services were not required next season after two seasons in charge.

"I think they knew if they hit us really hard after half-time that we would ship tries every two or three minutes as we did at times.

"We managed to stick it out in the first half but they were just clinical, clearing their lines and then playing from there with a good kick chase or a competition in the lineout and then they went from there.

"You can't play rugby without the ball and we went for long periods with no ball at all. They put us under pressure and we made mistakes under pressure as you do.

"There were some positives for us - I thought Chunk (Daniel O'Donoghue) played very well, carried a lot of ball and tackled well.

"We were under the cosh in the scrum but Ben Roberts (no. 8) played particularly well despite that.

"Camberley had some really strong runners and are a real power outfit with power runners. All of their backs were bigger than all of our forwards. They've obviously been in the gym and worked hard at that.

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Ben Roberts takes a lineout at Camberley. Photo: Chris Roberts. More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

"We were always going to lose it when we knew they were at full strength so I wasn't disappointed from that point of view.

"It has been a disappointing week but that's it now (for me) - finished, done. It's move on for me and move on for them (the players). We all have to go in whatever direction life takes us.

"I'm not disappointed because we expected that loss. With their 2nd and 3rd teams involved in Cup competitions as well, there was no way they were going to rest anyone from this team.

"We've had 10 wins, 12 losses and are mid-table after a massive injury list and shocking (levels) of unavailability this season.

"It was poison chalice straightaway when I took over because we knew we weren't going to survive in that league (London 1 South) because we should have been relegated the year before.

"If we had been (relegated) maybe last season would have been a much better season and this season we could have built on that for a top four finish.

"So it's onwards and upwards for everybody I guess. Goodnight..."

For the record, Camberley scored a total of 10 tries yesterday, converting seven.

The lone Gos try was scored by skipper Wes Dugan and converted by centre Dom Holling after 61 minutes.

Camberley's first half tries came after 13 (converted), 22, 35 (converted) and 43 minutes (converted) and at half-time the home side were leading 26-6.

In the second half they scored six tries after 44 (converted), 46, 48, 56 (converted), 58 (converted) and 68 minutes (converted).

Bridgman leads for the last time

Barry Bridgman takes his 1st XV to champions Camberley tomorrow for his last game in charge after being told this week that he won't be reappointed as Head Coach next season writes Brian Seeney.

Club chairman Alan Foulger met with Bridgman after Tuesday night's training session to relay the Executive Committee's decision that Bridgman's services were no longer required after two seasons at the helm.

A club statement has been issued which says: "Gosport & Fareham RFC wish to announce that Barry Bridgman will be stepping down as Head Coach at the end of this season. The Club would like to express its appreciation of all the time, effort and commitment made by Barry in what can only be described as two difficult seasons, due to our enforced stay in London 1 South in the first year of his tenure, whilst also dealing with personal circumstances mid-term. We wish Barry all the best in the future".

Bridgman told the players that it was his last training session last night and last game in charge tomorrow.

Meanwhile, down to just 22 players available tomorrow from the 85 registered - those actively playing makes the real total in the seventies - Bridgman's final team sheet shows four changes from the side that were beaten 47-27 at Winchester last Saturday.

Fly half Sam Foster, wing Kieran Darrington and back rows Rhys Bingham and Anthony Reynolds all come in for the injured Tom Lewis (quad), Tom Batley (neck) and the unavailable Will Baxandall and Ethan Carpenter.

Camberley

Rory Penfold moves to full back for Baxandall and Kieran McRoberts is at centre from 10 for Lewis while Ben Roberts switches from the second row to number 8 and Simon Trivett from flanker to the second row.

Runaway champions Camberley have an Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham and a Surrey Cup Final after tomorrow's game that was originally scheduled for early March until the 'Beast from the East' forced a postponement.

Bridgman thinks those Cup Finals could mean the home side leave out some of their key players tomorrow.

"They may wish to rest their frontline players. They won the league comfortably and deserved to win it because they are far and away the best side in the league overall," he told me last night.

"I'm sure they want to win the Intermediate Cup at Twickenham and the Surrey County Cup and make it hat-trick this season.

"With one job done why would you risk crucial players in a game against us?

"We don't really know what to expect but if they are resting some players then that improves our chances of getting a win there and finishing with a 50/50 record of 11 wins and 11 defeats and that's not bad.

"We didn't play well (at Winchester) and we have to pick ourselves up. The team are playing for personal pride as Camberley are."

Camberley, with a 10 point lead at the top of the London 2 South West table, lost for only the second time this season when they were beaten at home 17-22 by KCS Old Boys last Saturday.

Gos 1st XV:
15 Rory Penfold
14 Kieran Darrington
13 Dom Holling
12 Kieran McRoberts
11 Shaun Taylor
10 Sam Foster
9 Wes Dugan (Captain)
8 Ben Roberts
7 Rhys Bingham
6 Anthony Reynolds
5 Simon Trivett
4 Toby Woodford
3 Daniel O'Donoghue
2 Sean Shepherd
1 Dan Gamblin
Replacements:
16 Nathan Titchener
17 Jimmy Wallis
18 Ian White.

Poor Gos put away by relegated Hampshire rivals

The 1st XV were well beaten at Winchester losing 47-27 yesterday in a match that went from bad to worse as they conceded seven tries to their already relegated Hampshire neighbours but somehow managed to score five tries themselves writes Brian Seeney.

The bonus point was no consolation on a day that they lost centre Tom Lewis within minutes of the start with a quad injury, conceded two tries in the first 15 minutes and were a shadow of the side that had saved themselves from relegation the week before with a five try win over Effingham & Leatherhead.

On a warm and sunny afternoon it was Winchester who looked like they were side that were staying in London 2 South West rather than Gos

"We played poor poorly, we took lots of wrong options, we defended poorly, missed tackles and dropped lots of ball. When you put all those things together you can't play a game of winning rugby," admitted Head Coach Barry Bridgman who was hoping for a big win against his former club.

Bridgman and his players were sent packing by Winchester after the highs of last weekend's win and now face a trip to runaway league champions Camberley next week where all that's left to play for is pride.

"Fair play to Winchester I thought they played very, very well," said Bridgman.

"They wanted the game and I said to their coach it's a shame you didn't play like that for the previous 21 games because you would still be in this league (next season).

"Winchester played particularly well and exploited all our weaknesses. We played the wrong game and we didn't react to what they were doing.

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Sean Shepherd scores one of his two tries yesterday. Photo: Chris Roberts.

"All our preparation seemed to go well in the week, the (pre-match) warm-up was really good and everyone seemed very positive. The boys seemed up for it and relaxed.

"It was a bit like a coiled spring but it just never happened. We didn't get into the game at all and it was not what we expected. We were pretty poor today."

Gos were naturally disrupted losing Lewis within three minutes of the start and they were 12-0 down inside 14 minutes before skipper Wes Dugan scored his side's first try in the 17th minute for 12-5.

A Winchester try on 31 minutes was answered through full back Will Baxandall's try after a well worked blindside break within four minutes, but a 40th minute Winchester penalty made it 20-10 at the interval.

The first score of the second half was going to be critical and Winchester got that within three minutes of the restart, converting their fourth try for the bonus point, then adding a 47th minute penalty to make it 30-10 and a win was out of sight for Gos.

The hosts finished putting Gos to the sword scoring tries in the 49th and 60th either side of Ethan Carpenter's yellow card, one of those scores converted, for 42-10.

Scrum half Dugan put in hooker Sean Shepherd for a third Gos try after 64 minutes with Baxandall's conversion attempt crashing against an upright. It was that kind of afternoon.

Winchester's seventh try made it 47-15 in the 75th minute but a fourth Gos try by replacement prop Nathan Titchener and a second for Shepherd on 83 completed the scoring.

Wing Shaun Taylor converted with a drop kick as no tee emerged from the sideline which pretty much summed up the afternoon for the sizeable travelling support from Gos, who glumly watched on as their high hopes of a win were shot down in flames.

Under 16s win County Bowl

The Under 16s claimed a hard fought victory over Portsmouth in the Hampshire County Bowl Final winning 11-7.

This was always going to be a hard match. The Under 16s had learnt from a previous encounter that Portsmouth liked to keep the ball with their forwards and the conditions dictated that that's exactly the type of game it would be.

Right from the kick off the tone of the match was set. The first five minutes was dominated by the forwards as they went through the phases. Hard running was met with hard tackles, the slippery conditions producing handling errors. A Portsmouth lineout 5 metres out saw a beautifully taken ball brought down and a maul was formed. Gosport and Fareham threw bodies in but Portsmouth had the maul set perfectly and drove the ball over the line. The try was converted; 0-7 to the visitors.

Gosport & Fareham responded well, keeping the visitors pinned back in their 22, but an attempted grubber kick through the defence rebounded off a Portsmouth player and they launched a counter attack down the wing before being bundled into touch at the half way line.

The twelfth minute saw Gosport & Fareham put their first points on the board. A penalty in front of the posts. The captain called for the kicking tee and Benjamin Smith scored the penalty; 3-7. The points seemed to settle the side and boost their confidence.

The first half ended with no further score 3-7 to Portsmouth.

The second half started in much the same way as the first but with much more movement through the hands even though the conditions hadn't improved the boys were obviously much more confident.

Neither side were able to break through. The steadfast defence from both sides interspersed with turnovers in the slippery conditions.

A knock on by Portsmouth. The ball came out of the scrum to Ollie Walker who sprinted toward the line and was hit by wall of defenders. The boys piled in behind him, Ollie reached through with the ball and grounded it. The Portsmouth players piled in. Was it a try? The crowd waited with bated breath. No, the ball was judged to be short of the line.

Then came what seemed like a crazy decision. A penalty right in front of the posts and the captain opted to take the points rather than kick to touch. The decision obviously wasn't popular with some members of the team but Benjamin Smith lined up, stepped back and slotted the ball between the posts bringing the score to 6-7. Gosport & Fareham were one point behind with 10 minutes to play.

Relentless pressure from Gosport & Fareham forced Portsmouth back into the 22. With five minutes to play Portsmouth knocked on Gos were awarded a scrum.

The scrum had been working well, the boys more than holding their own against the much larger Portsmouth pack. Once again they held steady and hooked the ball back. The backs were spread out across the field, the Portsmouth players moved across to defend. Benjamin Smith, in a scrum half role, picked the ball from the base of the scrum and darted down the now open blind side scoring in the corner. The conversion was missed. The score was 11-7 with less than five minutes to go, could they hold on?

Portsmouth rallied and threw everything they had at the defence. It was a nail biting last few minutes. Gosport & Fareham won the ball back in a ruck on their line but the resulting clearance kick failed to find touch and the receiving player was tackled by an offside Gos player. The ball came all the way back. Only about a minute to go. Portsmouth brought the ball across the pitch, an excellent tackle and jackal from Joseph O'Mahony won the ball and Alex Burnett set the ruck. A Portsmouth hand came through, the whistle went for the infringement...and then for full time.

It was an excellent game of rugby, one which neither side deserved to lose.

After the match, when asked about his decision to go for the posts rather than kick to touch in the second half, Alex Burnett said "I had faith in the boys. We had 10 minutes to go, Portsmouth were going backward and our fitness seemed to be better but they had a really good mauling game so a good result from a line out was questionable.

"In such a close match I'd rather be one point behind with the team spurred on and attacking for 10 minutes than one point ahead but the incentive with the opposition forcing us to defend."

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County duty for trio

Three players from the Club's Under 15 squad have been selected to play for Hampshire against Sussex at Petersfield tomorrow (2pm).

Harry Rabjohn will play in the full County side with Euan Archbald and Samuel Rushent in the A team.

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