Hat-trick hero is Havant’s Knight in shining armour

Joel Knight crossed for a hat-trick of tries
Joel Knight crossed for a hat-trick of tries
England's Vickil Cornborough is tackled by Scotland's Karen Dunbar during the Women's Six Nations match at Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. PPP-171108-170224001

Cornborough helps England notch first victory

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Joel Knight led by example with a superb hat-trick of tries to help Havant break their London one south duck with a 35-13 win at Beckenham.

His stunning display justified the decision by his father, head coach Will Knight, to make him captain.

Centre Joel has taken his game up a level since playing for Wales in the Student Rugby League World Cup during the summer.

And in the process, he’s winning the battle to earn praise from his father.

‘I grudgingly told him that he had done okay,’ said Will Knight.

‘It is always a difficult decision to make your son captain because it can be open to all sorts of interpretations.

‘But Joel has stepped up and done his talking on the pitch – which has proved positive for him and the side.

‘He is just one of a number of leaders that we have throughout our ranks.

‘This was a very good team performance against a side that had won three of their first four games.’

Havant shot out of the blocks with a superb try in the opening minutes, after Beckenham applied some early pressure.

Good defence saw the visitors turn the ball over.

And outside-half Dave Sweeney combined with centre Ben Brierley to put Knight away for a length-of-the-field try.

Beckenham hit back with a penalty after Havant prop Luke Marks was yellow carded.

But Knight’s men kept the home side at bay for the 10-minute spell as they dug in.

That was a key period of the game for the head coach, who was delighted to hold out.

He said: ‘We didn’t allow them to play in our half while we were a man short and that was very pleasing.’

Havant capitalised on that to stretch their lead to 21-6 at half-time.

Brierley and scrum-half Nic Benjamin both went over to score tries and captain Knight kicked the conversions.

A sloppy charged-down converted try at the start of the second half brought the home side back to 21-13.

But Havant were in no mood to let their advantage slip.

When the forwards drove up the right side and produced quick ball, it allowed Knight to step inside the defence for his second try of the game.

Knight sealed the win by completing his hat-trick, seven minutes from time, with another good piece of opportunism.

The pack again blitzed upfield and with the home defence rushing up, Knight clipped the ball over the top and regained possession after a little juggle to go over the line.

Knight’s fifth conversion brought his tally to 25 points in the convincing win.

Coach Will Knight believes the team are now ready to climb the London one south table after showing they are up for the battle.

He said: ‘I asked the players beforehand what did they really want and they answered it magnificently.

‘They showed a huge amount of greater control and concentration from start to finish.

‘The forwards provided the platform and we know if they do that our backs are a dangerous attacking force.

‘We know there is still a lot of hard work to do but I am confident that we can push on from here.’