With the hard work of preseason behind them Havant started their league campaign with a trip to the much changed London Cornish who fielded 9 new players.
Playing in perfect conditions on a hard fast track the opening exchanges were as frantic and physical as you would expect in the excitement of the new season.
Havant opened the scoring with a penalty from Joel Knight. Cornish were unable to even things up when thy missed an easy chance in front of the posts.
The visitors settled into their patterns more quickly but it was Cornish that crossed for the first try as their left wing scrambled over wide in the corner for a converted try.
Havant hit back with another Joel Knight penalty and were starting to play with more territory and possession. The pressure told after a series of forward drives close to the Cornish try line when Lock Forward Harrison Young crashed his way over under the posts. Knight adding the extras for Havant to take the lead for the first time.
Cornish hit another penalty to pull the scores closer but with the clock moving into the red at the end of the first period Havant showed great ambition from deep in their own half. A backs move from the scrum made excellent ground up the right of the field and quick ruck ball put the ball in the hands of Hooker, Jerome Trail, who showed fantastic power and pace to run a full 50 metres to score in the left corner.
Half-time: London Cornish 10 Havant 18
The first 15 minutes of the second half was all Cornish. the home side pounding into the Havant defence and denying the visitors any possession. The defensive work-out for Havant shipped to penalties which closed the score to 16-18 but crucially no tries.
Havant steadied with a Joel Knight penalty before working a fabulous try for, man of the match, Dan Munden. A lineout ball was driven hard into the midfield and as the pack worked around the corner. Wes dugan changed direction and moved the ball out to Munden who had too much pace for the Cornish cover. Knight was again accurate with the conversion.
As the game moved in the last quarter it was the men from Hooks Lane who looked livelier. Havant kicked to the corner from a penalty and the havant pack took control with a well constructed drive. Armandus Morgan coming up with the ball and the bonus point score. Skipper Knight adding the conversion.
With Havant rampant now, great hands from the backs created an opportunity for Harry Carr. The winger needed no second bidding showing good footwork and pace to sprint away from the defence to mark his comeback with a fantastic score. Knight was again accurate with his boot.
Havant probably saved their best to last. A break from deep inside his own half by Skipper, Joel Knight, took the ball to within 10 metres of the line and then excellent support allowed the ball to go through two pairs of hands before Will Brock, on his debut, to crah over under the posts. Knight adding another 2.
The game then entered a strange period, the ref indicated that a scrum on Havant's line was the last play and as the whistle went Dan Munden launched the ball over the trees. The ref was signalling a penalty and Munden for his towering kick recieved a yellow card!
Havant spent the next 8 minutes camped on their own line, defending with an intensity that would suggest they were three points up rather than 33. As the penalties mounted, the ref sent Armandus Morgan to the bin for an accumulation of team offences.
Eventually after another 2 minutes Cornish broke through as Havant ran out of defenders on the right.
Skipper Joel Knight was delighted with his teams first outing,
"We delivered what we have talked about all week and have to be pleased to come away with a full five points against a Cornish side that are going to be a handful for a lot of sides this season."
"It was a typical first outing, very frantic at times, but we kept talking and worked out what we needed to do. I felt our fitness was good and that really showed in the last quarter where we were able to pull away."
"The lads on debut put in some great performances and it really shows the depth we have this year. It was fantastic to see Harry Carr get on the scoreboard. A year ago he thought he would never play rugby again."
"We have a big week of training, plenty to work on and a fabulous local derby against Chichester next weekend."