Havant have just enough!
By Rugby Reporter
In a highly competitive game Havant edged out Totts confirming the Southampton clubs fate for next season.
Havant v Tottonians has produced some cracking local derbies over the last few seasons and there is genuine regret that the two close rivals won't meet in the league next season.
If anyone needed any proof of the competitiveness of London 1 from top to bottom then the game at Water Lane was clear evidence of that.
Totts came out of the blocks in the first half with an intensity and aggression that rocked Havant back. the home side enjoying all the possession and territory in the opening exchanges and while their was some solid Havant defence they were struggling to get the ball and find a way into the game.
It was the home side that scored first with a close range score. The big Totts No 6 rolling from the edge of a ruck before powering over. Robbie Searle was accurate with the boot for a deserved lead.
Totts pressure was again rewarded when Searle knocked over a penalty. At this stage it was mostly one way traffic with Havant struggling to find a foothold in the game or any possession.
Totts forced a scrum 10m from the touchline and 10m out. The scrum went 90 and it looked like a reset but the referee allowed play to go on and Totts had an undefended run in to the line. 15 unanswered points and even the most optimistic Havant fans were starting to get a little twitchy.
The second Totts try seemed to shake a bit of life into the Havant machine. As the blus and whites started to go through the gears they enjoyed increasing success in finding space in the Totts defence. With Knight, Trail and Hewett causing headaches for Totts with some good linebreaks.
With a quarter of the game played the visitors claimed their first score. Jerome Trail showing great feet and power to crash over. The opportunity came from a good line-out and peel at the back which the hooker tracked, receiving the ball with 15m to go. Joel Knight added the conversion for his first points of the afternoon.
Havant now seemed to be warming to the task and the territory count that had been all Totts for the first 20 was now swinging towards the men from Hooks Lane. pressure in the home 22 set up a ruck 5m out and with the backs screaming to go right Hewett dummied and broke left to find Wayne Dugan who put his head down to power over.
With the clock running down Knight knocked over a penalty and in a half of 2 halves the teams found themselves locked together on the scoreboard.
Half-time: Tottonians 15 Havant 15
The second half carried on with same intensity but was far more stop-start. The home side happy to slow things down which was frustrating for Havant who clearly wanted to up the pace.
The majority of the game was being played out in the Totts half but Havant were unable to unlock the green and white defence and it was a full 30 mins before the deadlock was broken. When it was it was the boot of Robbie Searle that added three points from a rare excursion into Havant territory.
With Totts leading and the clock showing less than 10 minutes to play Havant upped their intensity. Knight opted to kick a penalty 3 metres inside the Totts half and knocked it straight through the middle of the uprights. 8 minutes left and scores in deadlock again.
The pressure at this stage was all coming from the men in Blue and White and Totts were hanging on desperately with some great defence.
The winner came with just 3 minutes to play. A good move by Havant had stretched the Totts defence to the right. Quick ruck ball found its way into the hands of Skipper Joel Knight on the 10 metres line. The centre ran hard dummied to pass, leaving Totts skipper Nathan Burns sat down and from that position he could only turn to watch as Knight sprinted in for the decisive try. Knight converted his own try and with no time left on the clock Havant had secured a hard fought win.
Havant deserved their victory on balance, they were more creative and created more chances but Totts were competitive from minute 1 to minute 80. On the evidence of today they will certainly be the team to beat in London 2 next season and would be bookie's favourite for an immediate return.
Havant skipper Joel Knight,
"Well done to Totts today, they were every bit as competitive and difficult to break down as we expected. They have certainly been one of our most difficult opponents this year and I can't quite believe they wont be in the league next year."
"We wish them all the best for next season and expect to see them back at London 1 in 20/21."
"For us today - we got the job done. Sometimes you find a way to win ugly and we achieved our targets for today. At the start of the season we would have lost going behind by 15 points but today there was no panic, just players working out how to get back into the game. Our form away from Hooks lane has been poor this season overall and that is something we need to address if we are going to achieve what we want next year."
"We have one more week to go and a huge game against Medway, that might well decide their fate this year. But more important than that it is a last chance to thank our fans by putting on a performance we can all be proud of."