Havant hold on for nail-biting win

Double try scorer Dickie Dukes
Double try scorer Dickie Dukes
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Adam King revelled in Havant’s nail-biting 24-19 win over Staines but admitted: It was no place for the feint- hearted.

The Hooks Lane victory saw King’s men assume pole position in the race for National League London & south west three safety.

Midway through the second half, Havant looked home and dry leading 24-10.

But a late fightback by the visitors left them desperately hanging on to a crucial victory.

Director of rugby King prowled the touchline in the final 15 minutes, arms aloft urging his players to raise their game and they did just enough in the end to get over the line.

‘It was nerve shredding at the end and not a place for the feint-hearted,’ he said.

‘We were slow out of the starting blocks looking nervous and weighed down by a fear of failure.

‘To be fair, we found ourselves 10-0 down without being in their territory and at that stage I felt very fearful.

‘Games, though, change on small things and once we got an interception try it changed the whole complexion.

‘That score on the half-hour seemed to lift us and we added another try from some good rugby almost from the restart.

‘That meant we went in at the break with momentum in our favour and we built on that at the start of the second half.

‘We looked home and hosed at that point but, typical of us, we allowed them back in it.

‘To be fair, Staines came to play and they had a number of players who have played at a higher level and they worked their way back in.

‘We started coughing up penalties, had Graeme Butterworth sent to the sin-bin and it became a case of digging in.

‘I have to be pleased with the spirit we showed and the fact that we dug out the win.

‘We had to make a couple of big tackles at the end but having scored three tries to one I thought we deserved it.’

Havant shipped two early tries before winger Dickie Dukes, who was outstanding all afternoon, got them up and running with a good interception and burst of pace to go around the Staines full-back for a try.

That lifted Havant and virtually straight from the restart they added another.

The forwards recycled the ball on their own 10-metre line, Grant Morris made a superb break and linked with James McSeveney who had come into the line from full-back.

He then put in centre Richie Stenhouse, who made no mistake in racing to the Staines line from 40 metres out.

They then dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second half, adding another Duke try after a perfectly judged kick to the corner by McSeveney.

The full-back added a marvellous conversion from close to the touchline and soon afterwards knocked over a penalty.

Staines, however, refused to lie down and as Havant tired the south London side began to turn the screw with three penalties pegging Havant back to 24-19.

When the home side were reduced to 14 men 12 minutes from time – with Butterworth sent to the sin-bin – they dug in and showed their character with some big midfield tackles.

‘This is a massive win for us – it puts us in the driving seat, eight points in front of Basingstoke with two games to play,’ said King.

‘It still isn’t over, though, and we have to go to Bishop’s Stortford in a fortnight still looking for a result.

‘If we can take our home form into the away games, remain mentally tough and keep playing our rugby, we are certainly good enough to get the necessary results from our last two games.

‘We certainly don’t want it going to the final weekend of the season, though.’

Havant: McSeveney, Duke, Stenhouse, Morris, Robinson, Knight, Davenport, Wheeler, Elsmore, Wells, Butterworth, Neill, Frith, Horn, Hart.