Havant keen to home in on first win

Havant's Dickie Duke Picture: Mick Young
Havant's Dickie Duke Picture: Mick Young
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Havant will need to up their game if they are to get their London one south campaign up and running against Chichester at Hooks Lane (3pm).

Will Knight’s team lost against Wimbledon on the opening day of the season last weekend and are desperate to avoid a second straight defeat on their home patch.

Tomorrow’s visitors from West Sussex only just missed out on a play-off place last term and started this campaign with a win.

They will provide a stern test for Havant.

But a home victory will be needed if the hosts are to avoid another season in the lower reaches of the league.

‘Chichester are a good side and the key will be for us to deny them any opportunities,’ said director of rugby Knight.

‘We will certainly need to up our game.

‘A lot will depend on how well we can impose our game plan on them and that will mean a lot of hard work.

‘When we did that against Wimbledon last week we were effective and they didn’t have an answer for it.

‘We can take a lot of positives out of our first game and must build on those.

‘Our scrummage and line-out performed well and those areas can give us a platform to play our game.’

Havant are boosted by the arrival of centre Ben Brierley from National League Ampthill and believe he can forge a powerful midfield pairing with captain Joel Knight.

Brierley makes his debut and should strengthen Havant’s back line with his experience at a higher level.

Talented hooker Pete Austin, who has proved a key figure for Havant in the past, also makes his first appearance of the season.

The home side make further changes due to unavailability and injuries.

Wingers Loz Blackburn (fractured ankle) and Dickie Duke (shoulder) are ruled out, while Josh Blackburn and Rob Elsmore have work commitments.

The injury to Duke was particularly unfortunate after he refractured his shoulder in his first game back after an eight month lay-off.

In comes ex-Hove winger Zaid Ali for his debut.

Welcome returns are also made by fellow winger Martin Smith and full-back James Doe, who is back from playing in New Zealand.

One area Havant need to improve on will be their discipline, although Knight felt his side were harshly treated by the referee in their season-opener.

Three second-half yellow cards finally left them with too much to do.

Knight knows they cannot afford a repeat against Chichester if they are to remain in contention.

‘We have to keep all 15 players on the pitch to give ourselves a chance,’ said Knight.

‘When we do that then we can compete with anybody.

‘It is important that we keep our concentration and play for the whole 80 minutes.

‘We cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal at any time.

‘As the team plays together more then we will acquire more of the nous needed in league rugby.

‘Then we can develop the skill of knowing when to push on and when to consolidate.’

Havant: James Doe, Zaid Ali, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight, Martin Smith, Dave Sweeney, Grant Morris, Jack Ward-Golden, Pete Austin, Luke Marks, Loz Warren-West, Harry Welton, Niall Copeland, Luke Barfoot, Dan Roberts. Replacements: Justin Powell, Bruce Neill, Jake Reynolds