Joel stars as Havant beat Brighton

Joel Knight. Picture: Mick Young
Joel Knight. Picture: Mick Young
Anthony Fooks. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-346)

Pearce: Best is yet to come from Portsmouth

Have your say

Havant captain Joel Knight showed nerves of steel as he earned his side a 23-22 win over Brighton with the final kick of the game at Hooks Lane.

In a dramatic finale, Dave Sweeney launched a pin-point crossfield kick for winger Josh Blackburn to rise above the defenders to gather and score the try.

That left Havant trailing by a point and Knight with it all to do with a conversion attempt, 15 metres in from the touchline, and into the teeth of a biting wind.

‘It was far too far away from the posts for my liking,’ said Havant coach Will Knight.

He needn’t have feared, though, as Joel Knight calmly slotted the ball between the posts, before the referee blew for full-time.

It was a crucial kick and one that could prove to be the turning point in the home side’s London one south campaign.

‘It was a thriller that went right down to the wire,’ said Will Knight.

‘Joel will grab the headlines with his kick but it was the magnificent way the team went about the job after falling behind with just three minutes left.

‘Maybe it was desperation but we suddenly produced the necessary fire.

‘At the same time, the players kept their heads, displaying great precision under the most extreme pressure.

‘That carried us through at the end and provided the opportunity to win it.’

Starting with the strong wind at their backs the home team established a 16-0 lead at the interval.

Joel Knight knocked over two penalties and converted his own try scored under the posts.

Harry O’Brien also contributed a seige-gun penalty from the half-way line while the visitors were unable to get on the scoreboard.

‘Brighton were a big side who kept coming at us up the middle,’ said Will Knight.

‘But our tackling and defence was outstanding, though I still wondered if we had built up a big enough lead.’

Knight’s fears soon bore fruition with Brighton scoring four tries to lead 22-16 in the final five minutes.

With the clock ticking down Havant finally roused themselves for a final epic effort.

The home side pounded the Brighton defence with centre Ben Brierley making some big carries.

Finally Sweeney’s piece of magic provided the key to unlock the defence and set up Knight for his match-winning kick.

‘This is a big win for us,’ said Will Knight.

‘Brighton were third in the league and it shows that we can more than compete against the top sides.

‘Our forwards responded magnificently after last week’s poor showing and showed the tenacity to give us a real platform.

‘There is a great resilience about our squad which is still relatively young.

‘It is crucial that we start putting more points on the board and it is nice to do it in front of our home crowd.

‘Hopefully this win can spur us on to further success.’