Havant take 5 at Hove
By Rugby Reporter
Havant hit the road for the first time in 2019 as they travelled to Hove looking to complete the double over the league's basement club.
The Sussex club had proved a tough nut to crack last time out for high flying Medway and demonstrated the strength right through the league with a determined performance to push Havant all the way.
Havant welcomed back skipper Joel Knight after his lengthy absence and Hove 'welcomed' back Gareth Davies, a former skipper at the club, by ensuring his every action was met with raucous comment!
Playing up the hill and into breeze in the first half, Havant opened the scoring with a well worked try for winger James Wise. The pack carried well to open up the midfield and a change of direction exploited space on the left, good hands along the back line gave Wise the space to use his pace to step and go around his winger for a score wide out.
The game then settled into a stop-start affair, Hove seeming to have the nudge in the scrums and Havant architects of their own problems with the amount of penalties they were conceding. The Hampshire side were certainly not on the same wave length as the referee and as the game went on this seemed to get worse rather than better.
To the delight of the hove crowd the home side pulled back a penalty, which was reward for the tenacity they were showing.
The visitors scored their second try through winger Scott Morris. The ball was cleared from deep and a good break by Ben Chambers and smart hands put Morris over in the corner. This was converted by Gareth Davies, to the disappointment of the crowd.
All afternoon Havant had seemed quite sluggish, and there were a number of uncharacteristic missed 1st up tackles. Hove's opening try exploited this very well. A missed clearance kick gave possession to their speedy left wing and although he looked as if was well covered 3 Havant tacklers managed to miss him as he ran in for a simple score in the corner.
Half-time: Hove 8 Havant 12
Havant rocketed out the blocks at the start of the second half, scoring within the first minute. Good continuity and linking between backs and forwards took the ball into the 22 and skipper Joel Knight marked his return with a powerful surge to cross for a try converted by Gareth Davies.
When Havant scored their 4th to secure the try bonus with 14 minutes of the second period played it looked like the floodgates might open for them. The try was made by a clever chip and chase from Ben Chamber and finished with another powerful run from winger James Wise.
With Havant looking set for the win, Hove showed great spirit and determination to force themselves back into the game. First a pick and drive from their excellent No 8 at a five metre scrum gave them a converted score. Havant aiding and abetting with some poor tackling.
Then another clearance that didn't make touch was an opportunity for their left wing to run back, getting outside the covering defence and beating the last man to run in under the posts. A bout of handbags ensued under the posts but after it had all calmed down Hove added the conversion and the crowd had a 2 point game to get excited about.
Havant then made the job harder as Luke Marks was sent to the sin bin for ruffling the hair of his opposite number, and this seemed to spark a period where the men from Hooks Lane were penalised for almost everything the did.
In the closing stages Hove threw everything at the visitors and even had 2 long range penalty attempts to win the game but Havant managed enough composure to ensure they came away with the full five points, Hove earning a well deserved losing bonus.
It was not pretty but Havant got the job done, a performance that will spark lots to work on in training, but a reminder that no one in this league can be taken lightly.
Havant skipper Joel Knight,
"We were really disappointed with the way we played but happy to come away with the full 5 points."
"We never really got going and there were far too many missed tackles, but we showed just enough to get the job done."
"Hove had nothing to lose and played like that, but we really didn't get our shape right enough of the time. When we did play the rugby we are coached we scored, we just didn't do enough of it."