Havant Cup Heartbreak at Down Grange
Havant lose to the 'Old Enemy' with moments to play after extra-time in the Hampshire Cup Final.
Havant travel to down Grange for the Hampshire cup final hoping to finish the season with some silverware in the trophy cabinet.
After a long hard campaign in the league this was the last outing for both teams in the 2013/14 season. Basingstoke having been relegated were also desperate to salvage something from their season.
Havant were without the influential Blackburn brothers who were attending a family wedding. However,they were able to field Sam Berridge at centre, one of last seasons favourites. The return of Sam Cooksley and Ollie O Gorman also boosted the Havant eight.
The game kicked off in bright sunshine and it was the visitors that immediately showed their intent with a resolute defensive effort that smashed back Basingstoke at every opportunity.
Havant were able to turn over a number of balls at the breakdown and were rewarded with a penalty in the first minutes converted by Joel Knight.
Basingstoke struck back almost immediately with a long-range penalty of their own before losing their influential number 8 to the sin bin for killing the ball in the red zone. Knight kicked the resulting penalty to put Havant 6-3 up with 10 minutes on the clock.
Yet again Havant conceded a penalty almost immediately and the home side levelled the score.
As the heavens opened the game was played mainly in the middle third of the field with both sides spilling ball in the difficult wet conditions.
Basingstoke were struggling to make any headway against the resolute Havant defence and in the first half it was a Hooks Lane men who had more clear-cut opportunities. With both winger Jay Wilkes and scrum-half Grant Morris going close.
The Havant pack certainly seem to have an edge against the bigger Basingstoke 8 at the scrum but the conditions meant it was difficult for either side to hold onto the ball long enough to build an attack.
The second half carried on much in the same vein, with defences on top and lots of errors from both teams.
Even though they were playing with the wind at their backs Havant were struggling to establish a territorial gain and spent much of the half defending.
Despite having the lion share of possession the home team offered little threat through their backs and increasingly Ben Brierley on the Havant right wing was causing problems for Stoke but each time he broke through the attack were just unable to get the support on his shoulder.
As the first period of extra time began there was a renewed intensity in the Havant ranks and it was a well taken try by Jay Wilkes that broke the deadlock. The young Academy winger sprinted 30 m for his score wide on the left. Joel Knight was unable to add the conversion but at half time in extra time it looked as if Havant were heading for glory.
With only minutes to play in the final period Basingstoke had possession deep in the Havant 22. As the ball spilled free and was grounded over the try line by Basingstoke it appeared that the touch judge was indicating that the ball had been knocked on, despite this the referee awarded the try and with the extras added Havant now trailed for the first time in the game.
With only two minutes to play there was no time for the Hooks Lane team to get back in to the Basingstoke half and from the kick-off Stoke kept possession and ran down the clock to take the silverware back to down Grange.
Havant were was hugely disappointed but can reflect on a positive performance at the end of a long season. For long phases of the game they were the better side and showed a determination in defence which will stand them in great stead next season.