Havant keen to be tour de force at Chobham

Peter Austin
Peter Austin
Southsea Nomads made progress. Picture: Neil Marshall

Heathens suffer disappointment... Nomads progress

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Havant can look forward to an early start as they look to avoid the Tour of Britain cycle race on their way to Chobham in London one south.

Police are closing the roads in the area as the tour’s route passes the entrance to their hosts’ ground.

And with Olympic and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins among those competing, a big crowd is expected.

The rugby will also kick-off an hour earlier (2pm) as a result, leaving Will Knight’s side with a hectic morning as they attempt to kick-start their season.

The Hooks Lane outfit have opened up with two home defeats and can expect another stern test from their newly-promoted hosts.

In contrast, Chobham have started with two wins.

‘If we are to get anything from the game we have to get our set-pieces right,’ said Knight.

‘Last week against Chichester they just didn’t function and we ended up living off scraps of possession.

‘When we got the ball we looked threatening, but it wasn’t enough.

‘To be fair, it is the first time that has happened since I have been here and I am confident we can recover those issues.’

The return of Pete Austin at hooker is expected to make a big difference.

The experienced player was supposed to have appeared last week but had to pull out at the last minute due to his army rugby duties.

Knight is hoping there isn’t a repeat this weekend.

‘Pete brings an added aggression and mobility to our pack,’ he said.

‘He has played at a much higher level and his experience is influential.

‘We know that we will lose him from time to time to the army.

‘But that is something we have to manage.’

Bruce Neil comes into the second row and James Roberts into the back row as Knight rotates his forwards.

In the three-quarters, Zaid Ali gets his first start on one wing, with Josh Blackburn returning on the other flank.

‘We face another tough challenge,’ added Knight.

‘Chobham have been promoted into our league.

‘A number of players have joined them from the national leagues and they will be a strong proposition.’

Havant: Pat Gain, Josh Blackburn, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight, Zaid Ali, Dave Sweeney, Grant Morris, Luke Marks, Pete Austin, Jack Ward-Golden, Niall Copeland, Bruce Neil, Hary Welton, Luke Barfoot, James Roberts, Justin Powell, Loz Warren-West, Dan Roberts