Head Coach Barry Bridgman takes his 1st XV to Twickenham tomorrow (2pm) with no idea of what to expect after the hosts provided one of the shock results of the season last weekend writes Brian Seeney.

The third in the table Londoners lost 20-7 at struggling Effingham & Leatherhead in their first game of 2018 whilst Gos were battling second in the table Old Reigatian and losing by just four points (26-30) at Gosport Park.

"I was very surprised at the result at Effingham," Bridgman told me after training last night.

"I don't know whether we will be on the end of a Twickenham backlash tomorrow or whether they've got a big enough list of injuries and unavailable players to make them not very goods. I just don't know.

"We'll only find that out when we cross the whitewash on Saturday unfortunately."

Seventh in the table Gos are only two points behind Farnham who host London Exiles tomorrow so there is every chance that Gos could climb a place in the table if the results go their way.

"A third away win in a row would be a decent result and there's no reason why we can't do that.

"It's perfectly within the realms of possibility and we are good enough to do it.

"There is an opportunity to make up some ground on the top three and we certainly need to come away with a minimum of a couple of bonus points if we can in order to keep ourselves in contention because likewise the chasing pack is fairly close.

"I think there is going to be a lot of shuffling about in this league to come and obviously a win would do us a power of good on the road against the third in the table."

Bridgman is forced into five changes tomorrow with Tom Lewis, Alex Cooksley and Shaun Taylor coming into the back line for the injured Alex Heron (wrist), Joe Traynor (concussion), and Alex Duncombe (unavailable).


Will Baxandall switches to full back for Heron allowing Taylor to return after being a little unlucky to lose his wing berth last week.

In the pack prop Daniel O'Donoghue (shoulder) and the unavailable Ethan Carpenter are replaced by Dan Gamblin and Anthony Reynolds respectively.

The return of both Lewis and Gamblin is a big boost and hopefully they will last longer than the few minutes they spent on the field against Andover and Camberley respectively, when they both returned from previous injury problems only to be out of contention again with minutes.

"We have had a lot of changes in the team this week due to injury and unavailability but those coming in are the calibre of player who would have got into the team regularly in the past," said Bridgman.

"We've got Tom and Dan back, Alex (Cooksley) is at 10 and Kieran (McRoberts) is on the bench with Tom Batley and Nathan Titchener.

"Even though we've had a lot of injury and unavailability we are still picking from strength and not looking around just to fill a team.

"Unfortunately we are going through a sticky patch again with injuries. This week we've got several out injured and we are going back to a list of injuries again just when we thought we were getting everybody back. It is starting to fall off again.

"Tomorrow is a chance to prove ourselves having beaten London Exiles and then the two bottom sides in the table and then playing pretty well against Old Reigatian which was a good test.

"It's important that we get a good start to both halves tomorrow.

"It was a tight game here (24-27 to Twickenham) and they hadn't settled into third place by then.

"But I don't think the second, third and fourth place hold any fears for us - only Camberley are head and shoulders above everybody else in this league."

In the day's other games, the 2nd XV (Vikings) go to Andover 2s in the Snows Solent 1 league and the 3rd XV to Basingstoke Griffins in Snows Solent 4 (both 2pm).

Gos 1st XV is:
15 Will Baxandall
14 Rory Penfold
13 Wayne Dugan
12 Tom Lewis
11 Shaun Taylor
10 Alex Cooksley
9 Wes Dugan (Captain)
8 Sean Shepherd
7 Grant Hill
6 Anthony Reynolds
5 Simon Trivett
4 Ben Roberts
3 Dan Gamblin
2 Alex Collard
1 Carl Dawson
16 Nathan Titchener
17 Tom Batley
18 Kieran McRoberts.

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