Hampshire Cup date reschedule frustrates duo

Havant coach Will Knight
Havant coach Will Knight
Havants Penioni Tagituimua. Picture: Kate Shemilt

Cuffe dismissed as Havant suffer first defeat

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Havant and Gosport & Fareham are both frustrated at the prospect of having to play their Hampshire Cup semi-final next Sunday.

The two teams were due to meet this weekend in the competition but Havant’s rearranged London one south game at Sidcup, postponed last Saturday because of a waterlogged pitch, takes precedence.

Both clubs now face a double header of league and cup games in the space of 48 hours next weekend.

With the winners due to meet Portsmouth in the final at Rugby Camp on Easter Saturday, the weather has caused a major problem for both clubs.

The fact that both Havant and Gosport & Fareham are involved in the battle to avoid relegation only serves to complicate the issue further.

‘It isn’t an ideal situation for either club,’ said Havant coach Will Knight.

‘I am a little confused why we couldn’t play the cup games at the end of the season.

‘There must be reasons, I suppose, but this isn’t helpful.

‘Our focus, obviously, has to be on staying up in the league – that needs our full attention.

‘It is a shame because I think the Hampshire Cup is important, but this means it becomes devalued.

‘Also, playing the final on the Easter weekend seems strange because a lot of players will be away and unavailable.’

Gosport coach Scott Ashley also finds the situation a frustrating one.

‘As a club, we hold the cup in high regard and it means a lot to us,’ said Ashley.

‘But being in a relegation battle makes it difficult.

‘With four league games left I believe we can still stay up.’

The focus this weekend for Havant is on picking up vital points at Sidcup to try to widen the gap between them and closest-rivals Gosport, who sit third from bottom.

As Gosport are not in action, Knight’s team are eager to make their game in hand count.

With only four league games remaining after this, victory would give them a huge psychological boost going into the closing weeks.

A defeat, on the other hand, would leave them still looking anxiously over their shoulder.

The visitors are without the commanding presence of the unavailable Dylan Rubenheimer in the back-row, which is a blow, but Dom Bellman returns from his army duties.

Pete Living has benefited from the extra week’s break his side have had and reappears at outside-half following his head injury.

That allows James Reed and Joel Knight to reform their partnership in the centre, and Sam Berridge comes in on the wing.

‘If we win the games we are expecting to win then we should be okay,’ said Knight.

‘We are on a good run having won our past two games and it’s important that we keep that going.

‘A win will take us that bit further away from Gosport and make life more difficult for them.

‘If we lose then we will find ourselves back among the relegation mire.’