Havant pay penalty for missed chances

Havant's Grant Morris is stopped just before the try line. Picture: Mick Young
Havant's Grant Morris is stopped just before the try line. Picture: Mick Young
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Improving Havant had to settle for a 20-20 draw against Westcliff in their National League Three London & south east relegation battle at Hooks Lane.

The home side had a great chance to win it late on but James Read pushed his penalty, from just outside the twenty-two, wide of the posts.

‘A few weeks ago this result would have been the cause of great celebration but the players came off the pitch frustrated and disappointed,’ said director of rugby Will Knight.

‘It was a game we know we could easily have won.

‘We trailed 13-0 at the break and in the past that would have been the end of it but now there is a greater strength and resilience throughout our side.

‘The players are gutted they didn’t go on and score a fourth winning bonus point try.

‘Our defence was relentless at times and the players showed they are prepared to put their bodies on the line.

‘It makes us much harder to play against and more difficult to beat.’

The home side conceded two penalties for scrummage offences in the opening six minutes to find themselves on the back foot early on.

Both teams had players sin-binned midway through the first half and after a period of midfield play the visitors extended their lead through a fortunate try.

A speculative kick ahead seemed to be covered by winger Dickie Duke but a horrendous bounce left the visitors with a simple run in for a try.

‘The biggest difference now is there was no sense of panic at the interval,’ said Knight.

‘We just looked at where we needed to do things differently and it paid off.’

Nine minutes into the second period forwards and backs combined well to put Duke over for the first of his two tries.

Soon afterwards, good driving play ended with Pete Austin going over the line with Read adding the conversion to put Havant in front.

Duke grabbed his second try to extend the home side’s lead and leave them sitting pretty in the closing stages.

‘Disappointingly we allowed them back into the game,’ said Knight.

‘They put us under a period of sustained pressure though we continued to hold them out with some excellent defence.’

The pressure eventually told, though, and when the ball squeezed out of the side of a ruck a visiting forward dropped on it for the try to level the scores at 20-20.

Two penalties, one long-range and the other from closer in, were missed and Havant had to settle for the draw.