Pain and pride as Havant Academy are denied national glory

Havant Academy narrowly missed out on being crowned National Colts champions
Havant Academy narrowly missed out on being crowned National Colts champions
Havant's Liam Mellor. Picture: Neil Marshall (171150-39)

Matthews delivers Havant rallying cry

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Kevin Cuffe admitted his frustration as Havant Academy fell agonisingly short in their quest to be crowned National Colts champions but insisted: We have no complaints.

Trailing 12-7, the Hooks Lane youngsters had Brentwood penned in their own 22 for long periods of the second half but were unable to register the key try against stubborn opponents.

A late breakaway score for the Essex side resulted in a flattering 19-7 scoreline for the victors at Bedford Blues.

Cuffe was immensely proud of his players’ efforts, with their involvement in such a prestigious event beyond their expectations.

He said: ‘That’s just the way it goes, you have to say Brentwood deserved to win.

‘They were better than us on the day.

‘If you had said to us in pre-season last year we would have been playing in a national cup final we would have been in total disbelief.

‘We could never have expcted at the start of this season to have progressed as far as we did.

‘We played as well as we could on the day and have always taken the line that if we do our best and another team manages to score against us and beat us then we give them the respect they thoroughly deserve.’

Havant’s hopes of national glory were dented early on when second-row Joe Walsh was ruled out of the remainder of the final with a knee injury.

And having trailed 12-0 at the break – after playing up the slope in the first half – it appeared to be game over.

But Tom Mew’s converted try cut the gap to just five points before Havant threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents.

Cuffe said: ‘We scored early on in the second half and then effectively the remainder of the game was played in Brentwood’s half.

‘We put them under significant pressure on their try line which resulted in two of their players being sin-binned.

‘But despite being down to 13 players, they were able to stop us crossing their line.

‘We had repeated scrums on their five-metre line.

‘But we just couldn’t get the ball over.

‘We also created space wide but unfortunately the final pass did not go to hand which stopped a try being scored on two separate occasions.

‘Then they hit us right at the end with a breakaway try.

‘It was a frustrating day – and the final score doesn’t reflect how tight the game was.’