The 1st XV got their third successive win by beating bottom side Eastleigh 7-12 yesterday to ensure a Happy Christmas and happy start to 2018 as they moved 14 points clear of the relegation zone writes Brian Seeney.

Head Coach Barry Bridgman had warned his players that the home side would throw the kitchen sink and anything else they could muster at Gos but a try after only two minutes from wing Rory Penfold, which fly half Alex Duncombe improved, was the perfect start.

However, they were unable to add to that until the 35th minute when Wes and Wayne Dugan combined for the latter to score.

Prop Carl Dawson's powerful run ended with Wes neatly slipping the ball to Wayne who crashed over in style. Duncombe's kick hit an upright and fell the wrong side. It remained 0-12 at the break.

In the second half, the Gos cause was damaged by a red card for second row Louis Bristow for throwing a punch right in front of Hampshire referee David Martin. It left the official, who handled the derby well, no choice but to end Bristow's participation after 57 minutes. It was the first red card issued to a Gos player since March 2016.

"It was a straight punch in front of the referee and regardless that Wes (Dugan) was being held by the head, that should not happen," said Bridgman.

"He should have had better discipline and now he faces however many weeks of a ban which didn't help us this afternoon and won't help us in the New Year. It really hasn't helped our cause."

When the Eastleigh player who was yellow carded with Bristow returned, the home side eventually converted a try 20 minutes later but Gos battled on and held on until eight minutes of added time had been played.

East WayneTry WEB

Wayne Dugan scores the try that clinched victory yesterday. Photo: Chris Roberts. Lots more pictures in the Photo Gallery now.

"We did make hard work of that," said Bridgman.

"Eastleigh did what I thought they would do which was fight for every inch, tooth and nail and they really did take it to us at times.

"It appeared to be the perfect start but Eastleigh played pretty well.

"They played out of their skins but they didn't have much in the way of ideas. They had lots of carrying but they couldn't exploit their territory and couldn't exploit the amount of ball they had. So as long as our defence stood firm, which it did, we were always going to get opportunities.

"Unfortunately when we got those opportunities, especially in the second half, we butchered three or four good chances.

"They carried for phase after phase very often but only once did they exploit that when they got their try.

"I'm happy because 13 out of 15 points is good. You've got to be pleased with that and be happy with the effort the team put in today because playing on that pitch was like a bog.

"It sapped the boys completely because it was slippery and slidey but we kept going to the end with 14 men.

"There was an immense amount of work put in today and if you judged it just on work rate alone we would have won it by a mile. But we didn't have a lot to show for it in two tries.

"The 14 who were on the pitch were pretty magnificent because Eastleigh sensed there would be gaps and a weakness there. They got part-way there but they gave away too many penalties and in the end we won it.

"It's a nice way to go into the second half of the season starting it with a win having achieved three wins in a row

"It's a nice Christmas present..."

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