Havant told to stop giving rivals head start

Havant director of rugby Rob Matthews. Picture: Malcolm Wells (113659-2594)
Havant director of rugby Rob Matthews. Picture: Malcolm Wells (113659-2594)
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Havant director of rugby Rob Matthews is urging his players to hit the ground running against Chobham this weekend and confine lacklustre starts to the past.

The team’s sluggishness in the early stages of matches well and truly proved their undoing last week in their 39-33 London south one loss to Sutton & Epsom.

A spirited second-half rally saw them outscore their opponents 26-7 but they had left themselves too much of a mountain to climb having conceded four tries inside the first half hour.

But while most of their league rivals take a break in the fixture list, Havant have a chance to make amends in their rearranged match up with Chobham this weekend.

The original match at the start of January was postponed due to the weather.

Now Matthews wants the only sign of any storm to be coming from his players come kick-off.

‘We need to be going at Chobham from the off,’ he said.

‘We need a full 80-minute performance. It’s within us, we just need to go out there and attack from the off.

‘We were very disappointed with the first 20 minutes last week where we frankly just did not show up.

‘We showed too much respect to them and allowed them to boss the game.

‘When we managed to win the ball and give it to our backs they scored with pretty much their first touch.

‘We showed we can take teams apart.

‘We have been building some good performances over the last six to eight weeks.

‘But that first 20 minutes was probably the worst period of rugby we have played this season.

‘The reality is we can’t just start playing after 20-odd minutes.’

And if Havant need any more reminders of what a slow start can do to their chances, they need only look at their encounter with this weekend’s opponents earlier in the season.

Again down on their opponents at half-time, this time 31-9, they battled hard in the second 40 before falling just short 38-26.

And while they may sit three places above them in the league, Chobham remain there for the taking if everything clicks, according to Matthews.

‘When we played them before we showed that if we take the game to them we can compete,’ he added.

‘We managed to outscore them by three tries to one in the second half, it was just a poor start again that let us down. They are a very competitive side.

‘At the start of the season they would have had ambitions to be higher than they are.

‘But we have to go out there and try and get the five bonus point win – or a win at the very least.’

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