Pressure on as Havant chase Gravesend double

Havant's Richie Janes is back
Havant's Richie Janes is back
Havant coach Will Knight. Picture: Mick Young

Havant to approach final games as cup finals

Darren Bamford returns at full-back for Havant   Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant out to avoid unlucky number 13

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HAVANT return to London one south action with the focus firmly set on completing a league double over visitors Gravesend at Hooks Lane.

A win will see Will Knight’s side maintain their unbeaten home record and consolidate their second place in the league.

With Tunbridge Wells hot on their heels the hosts know they cannot afford to slip up.

The end of season play-off place is at stake and Havant are determined to hold onto the runners-up spot.

‘Tunbridge Wells are on our heels and we don’t want to offer them any opportunities,’ said Knight.

‘One slip could be all it takes to hand the initiative to them.

‘It means added pressure but our players have shown so far this season they relish it.

‘They like the opportunities to go out and test themselves.

‘Our fate remains very much in our own hands and that is a great position to be in.

‘We know if we keep winning then the play-off place will be ours.

‘At the same time we know it isn’t going to be easy.’

Knight expects Gravesend to set them a few problems.

In the first meeting between the two sides in Kent, Havant had to work hard before finally breaking their opponents down.

Havant eventually won 29-21 with the home side offering a potent threat among their three-quarters.

That was shown by the fact they scored three tries.

Fresh from their Hampshire Cup semi-final win at Gosport & Fareham the hosts are in a good place.

Tom Blackburn returns in the front row while the regular second row partnership of Richie Janes and Mitch Goldring are reunited.

In the back-row Steve Cruddas is unavailable but Dan Munden is in.

Alongside Joe Davis and Gav Hart it gives Havant a very experienced look in that area.

Jake Hewitt gets the nod at scrum half.

And powerful full-back Darren Bamford returns to action after recovering from his recent hamstring problem.

‘We are picking from a position of strength,’ said Knight.

‘That has been the big difference this season.

‘Our solid core of 45 players gives us far more options than maybe we had in recent years.

‘The majority are capable of stepping up without any loss of quality.

‘When players come into the senior side they are able to retain the blends and combinations that we play.

‘That showed in our win at Gosport in the cup.

‘There is also a great commitment with between 30 and 40 players turning up at training each week.’

HAVANT: Bamford, S. Morris, Brierley, J. Knight, Rudder, Sweeney, Hewitt, T. Blackburn, Morgan, Trail, Janes, Goldring, Munden, Davis, Hart. Replacements: E. Bellman, N. Bellman, John