Havant target daylight in relegation scrap

120170-05_MY_Hav_Rugby'Havanr RUFC v Tonbridge Juddians'Havant's first try scored by  No13, James Reed.'Pic Mick Young'14/04/12
120170-05_MY_Hav_Rugby'Havanr RUFC v Tonbridge Juddians'Havant's first try scored by No13, James Reed.'Pic Mick Young'14/04/12
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Havant make the long journey to Dover believing they can secure vital points in their bid to maintain London south one survival.

First-team boss Rob Matthews insists there is a greater belief in the squad as they look to turnaround a one-point defeat at the hands of the Kent outfit earlier in the season.

The Hooks Lane outfit are currently sitting 12 points above third-bottom Gosport & Fareham.

And Matthews is convinced Havant can put more daylight between them and their south coast rivals.

He takes great heart from his side’s performance at Basingstoke – although the result was disappointing.

‘The final scoreline at Basingstoke didn’t reflect a lot of the game,’ said Matthews.

‘We competed really well for 65 minutes and then paid the price for a few lapses.

‘Our scrummage and line-out play provided us with a solid platform and for long periods we were able to apply some concerted pressure.’

The next few weeks will prove to be crucial for the Hooks Lane club.

They have still got to play a lot of the teams in and around them in the league and have a few scores to settle after a disappointing opening to the season.

In the first half of the campaign Havant suffered a series of narrow defeats – despite often producing the better rugby.

They paid the price for individual errors and that was the case against Dover where they lost by a single point at Hooks Lane.

‘Things didn’t go our way in the first game against Dover,’ said Matthews.

‘We failed to close the game out.

‘Now we are a much-improved outfit and I believe we are good enough to go there and beat them soundly.

‘Our league season is finely balanced and we know the next few games are important.

‘A couple of wins will see us open the gap up to 15 or 20 points – and then allow us to start thinking about next season.

‘At the same time, a couple of poor results for us and a couple of wins for Gosport will drag us back down into it.’

Havant make just one change from the side who competed well at Basingstoke.

Grant Morris is unavailable so they have drafted James Reed in at full-back.

Veteran forward Dylan Rubenheimer continues in the back row after an influential performance against Basingstoke.

With the London League trialling the use of ‘rolling subs’ – it does mean Havant can utilise the 35-year-old’s experience during different phases of the game.

‘We were able to bring him back on in the closing stages of the last game when our scrum was under pressure,’ said Matthews.

‘Having his voice on the pitch helped us a lot.

‘Allowing rolling subs means we can change the balance of the team and patterns of play for short periods during a game.’