Knight: Derby is great chance to banish blues

Joel Knight will move to outside-half Picture: Mick Young
Joel Knight will move to outside-half Picture: Mick Young
Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Havant are looking to banish their London one south blues by beating Tottonians in their derby clash at Hooks Lane (2pm).

Five successive defeats have sent Will Knight’s side into the bottom half of the league table – just eight points above the relegation zone.

But senior coach Knight views the Hampshire derby as a good opportunity to get back on track.

‘It has been a frustrating period because four of the losses were by narrow margins,’ he said.

‘Our players are keen to make a point and prove that, as a team, we are a lot better than our current league position.

‘We have put in some good performances but still come away empty handed.

‘Now is the time we need to convert our efforts into league points.

‘If we can do that between now and Christmas then we will be on the way to getting back to where we feel we should be.

‘The main problem has been our inability to field a consistent team from one week to the next.

‘Again, this week we make 10 changes, either in position or in personnel, because of injuries or unavailability.

‘This turbulence in selection hasn’t helped.

‘If I wanted anything for Christmas it would be for my squad to come back fully fit in the new year.’

Havant were well-beaten at Maidstone in their last game and need to show a big improvement in their maiden league game against Tottonians.

The visitors gained promotion at the end of last season and their sixth position suggests they have made the step up with some confidence.

Knight believes Tottonians will be tough to break down and his side will need to be on their game.

The coach is boosted by the fact he is able to field his most experienced back row in Joe Davis, Steve Cruddas and Gav Hart.

The home side, however, are forced to make a major reshuffle in the three-quarters.

University of Cardiff student Richard Gumbleton makes his first senior start in the centre after a series of impressive games in the second team.

Joel Knight moves to outside-half, with Jake Reynolds injured and Dave Sweeney unavailable.

Scott Morris, who did well after going on as an early replacement for Darren Bamford in the last game, gets a start on the wing.

‘We need to go out there and perform in the next few important weeks,’ said Knight.

‘It will be good if we can go into our other derby against old rivals Gosport & Fareham next week with a win under our belts.

‘Our target is to get a run of wins in the lead up to the Christmas break.

‘I feel for the players the most because they are frustrated by the lack of reward for all the effort they have put in.’

Havant: Harry Carr, Scott Morris, Loz Blackburn,

Richard Gumbleton, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight, Jake Hewitt,

Luke Marks, Jerome Trail, Jake Biggs, Harrison Young,

Nial Copeland, Joe Davis, Steve Cruddas, Gav Hart. Replacements: Tim Miller, Grant Morris