High-octane Havant put Stortford to the sword to boost survival hopes

Steve Stapleton marks his 100th appearance for Havant with a try
Steve Stapleton marks his 100th appearance for Havant with a try
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Havant boosted their Nat-ional League three London & south east survival chances with a 41-24 win over Bishop’s Stortford at Hooks Lane.

The home side ended a run of five consecutive defeats in style, restoring the belief they can avoid relegation.

The victory takes Havant to 35 points, nine clear of third-from-bottom North Walsham.

‘We felt all along that we had the ability to turn things around,’ said director of rugby Adam King.

‘The signs were there against Dorking last time out and we were firing on all cylinders from the start.

‘It was a game we knew we had to win if we were to give ourselves a realistic chance of staying up.

‘This season we have been notorious for our slow starts but we played at a high intensity from the word go.

‘To score a converted try inside the first minute was a great confidence booster and just what we needed.

‘We couldn’t have wished for a better start after having some of our confidence knocked out of us since Christmas. To be fair, we put the visitors under a lot of pressure and they coughed up a series of penalties as a result.

‘It was a statement from us that we were there to play.

‘Going in 31-7 up at half-time we knew, provided we retained the ball and remained focused in defence, we should be able to wrap the game up.

‘In true Havant fashion, though, we ran into yellow card trouble and made it more difficult than it should have been.

‘It was a bruising encounter and both sets of players were out on their feet.

‘Unlike the last three weeks we played our part instead of lying down and providing cannon fodder for the opposition.’

Inside a minute, Havant put a series of phases together which ended with winger Dickie Dukes going over for a try converted by James McSeveny.

McSeveny knocked over two penalties and converted a try by speed-merchant Jaryd Robinson.

Havant continued piling on the points through another McSeveny penalty and a second Robinson try, converted by David Keyte.

Steve Stapleton celebrated his 100th appearance with a try, again converted by Keyte.

At the start of the second half Havant had Gavin Hart and McSeveny yellow carded and Stortford hit back with a try.

Home nerves were calmed midway through the half when Grant Morris kicked ahead for Dukes to notch his second try to stretch lead to 36-12.

Two more Stortford tries meant Havant couldn’t relax but late on the bulky figure of replacement prop Ash Wheeler went over to make it comfortable at the death.

‘If we had lost it would have made the rest of our season very difficult,’ said King.

‘It will still be tough but these five points have taken us that little bit closer to securing National League rugby at Hooks Lane.’