Christmas came early to Gosport Park yesterday when on the day of the club's festive pre-match lunch and the last home game of 2017, the 1st XV gift-wrapped a six-try win by beating London Exiles 40-10 writes Brian Seeney.

The win was very important for several reasons.

It took Gos from tenth to seventh in the London 2 South West table which stopped bottom side Effingham & Leatherhead, 8-9 winners at Winchester and Eastleigh, who drew 22-22 at home to Old Tonbridgians, cutting the four point lead that Gos had over those two at the start of the day.

Now Gos are seven points off the bottom two relegation slots and have leapfrogged Winchester, Old Tonbridgians, and Andover, although only three points separate Gos and that threesome

It ended a four match losing run for Gos against an Exiles side who came south lying fourth in the table and had won their last four games including inflicting the only defeat of the season so far on leaders Camberley.

But it also proved what Head Coach Barry Bridgman has been saying and the team have been promising but not delivering in recent weeks - that they can play good rugby, compete, score tries and win.

And finally it will give them confidence for a critical month ahead with visits to Effingham & Leatherhead and then Eastleigh where Gos need to end their terrible away record of being win-less in the last 30 games and climb further up the league table.

Gos made the perfect start after a period of sustained Exiles pressure when centre Wayne Dugan converted his own try after just seven minutes. But three minutes later it was 7-5 until the 29th minute when the fast-improving and newly discovered 1st XV prop Carl Dawson, scored his first ever 1st XV try.

Captain Wes Dugan scored his team's third try on 34 minutes and brother Wayne converted as he did for the next three Gos tries.

It was another 33 minutes before the scoreboard ticked over again and those few braving the cold and wind saw Exiles narrow the gap to 19-10 with their second try.

What came next was entirely unexpected - instead of conceding three tries in seven minutes and crumbling at the end of games as Gos typically have in recent times, it was Gos who were the Christmas toast.

Playing champagne rugby, tries by wing Rory Penfold on 73 minutes, number 8 Sean Shepherd five minutes later and then a second for Wes Dugan on 80 minutes, comfortably sealed their biggest and fourth win in the league this season.

"It was very pleasing and a good afternoon," said Head Coach Barry Bridgman.

Exiles WayneTry WEB

The first of six tries for Gos, scored by Wayne Dugan who's there somewhere! Photo: Chris Roberts. More pictures in the Photo Gallery shortly.

"Now we need to make sure we don't lose the momentum of this over the next few weeks. Everyone needs to come training and keep the whole thing on the track.

"That will give us a good boost to go to Effingham because they will be a tough nut to crack because they don't want to be on the bottom. We need to make sure we don't get carried away with this win because they will be fighting hard at home to get off the bottom of the table.

"I certainly didn't expect a 30 point difference and six tries (today).

"I was hoping we would win and we obviously planned to win. We thought they would come down here and be a real tough nut to crack and for the first 10 minutes we were under the cosh.

"We scored the first try and immediately let them back into the game again with their try and I was a beginning to think this was going to be a tough afternoon.

"Then we started to get the upper hand, certainly in the scrum, which lasted all the way through the game. Our scrum was pretty good today and our lineout went well."

Another very good refereeing performance, this time by Hampshire's Jack Tompkins, was the third Gos have enjoyed in as many games.

Gos did receive two yellow cards for Gos flanker Grant Hill after 42 minutes and centre Kieran McRoberts 63 minutes whilst an Exile saw yellow on the hour.

"We played 20 minutes of that game with 14 men which made it harder for ourselves but it actually makes the result even better I suppose. On a different day that would have cost us," said Bridgman

"It was a good example for us how to keep the pressure on a team.

"I don't want to get too carried away with a win even though it was a great win.

"Yes we should celebrate it and it's an ideal time to do that. But we still gave away too many penalties and on a different day that would have made a different game of it against some of the other opposition in this league."

With a week off before the trip to Effingham, there is talk of a friendly next Saturday as part of the build-up to the next critical two games in an effort to maintain the momentum of this win.

Gos showed they are capable of playing good rugby and the performance yesterday needs to be the start of a steady climb away from the relegation zone.

But a big test lies in wait next month in two away games and more of the same is required if they are to enjoy some more festive cheer and have a happy start to the new year...

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