Havant focus on causing an upset at Wimbledon

Ben Brierley
Ben Brierley
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Havant director of rugby Rob Matthews insists his side can compete with the best as they prepare to visit London one south leaders Wimbledon.

The two sides drew 29-29 in a thrilling Hooks Lane encounter when they met earlier in the season.

Wimbledon snatched a draw from a charged-down kick with the final play of the game.

The powerful Londoners have an unbeaten home record this season but Havant are eyeing an upset.

‘We were unlucky not to beat them at home and paid the penalty for not closing the game out,’ said Matthews.

‘It showed we can mix it and compete with the best in our league.

‘Our young squad has been learning all the time and we have got better at going on to win games after getting ahead.

‘We know that it will be tough at Wimbledon because they have not been beaten at home yet this season.

‘If we play to our full potential, though, we are capable of causing an upset.’

Havant are forced to make a number of changes from the team that beat Hove.

Scrum-half Jake Reynolds, centre James Read and outside-half Dave Sweeney are all unavailable.

The visitors are boosted, however, by the return of powerful centre Ben Brierley for his first game since Christmas.

He will join Grant Morris in a new centre partnership, with youngster Jake Hewitt getting another opportunity at scrum-half.

In the forwards, Joe Davis is recalled into the back-row where his experience and decision-making ability can prove vital.

‘Though we are having to make a number of changes there is good depth in our squad,’ said Matthews.

‘Having Ben Brierley back is a big plus because his powerful running can get us over the gain line.

‘That will enable us to bring into play some of our young pacy three-quarters.

‘If we can do that then we might be able to put Wimbledon under some pressure.’

Havant are still without captain and leading points scorer Joel Knight.

The Hooks Lane outfit’s talisman is ruled out with a broken thumb.