Knight: Havant ready to hit ground running

Josh Blackburn impressed for Havant last season
Josh Blackburn impressed for Havant last season
Southsea Nomads made progress. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Havant are feeling positive ahead of their London one south opener at home against Chobham tomorrow (3pm).

Coach Will Knight believes the club have recruited well during the summer.

The Hooks Lane outfit have also kept the majority of their squad from last season.

After a slow start to the previous campaign, Havant finished in a comfortable mid-table position.

It means they go into this season with plenty of positive momentum at Hooks Lane.

Knight wants to see them build on their good finish and is targeting a top-six place this season.

He said: ‘Last season was quite pleasing in many ways after a slow start.

‘Our biggest failing was the number of games we lost by less than one score.

‘If you look at the number of losing bonus points we picked up, we were up there with the top clubs.

‘We were not quite able to close games out and that is something that we have to do better.

‘I am looking for us to build on last season’s foundations when we had a solid platform up front and a dangerous set of backs.

‘Two of our backs, Joel Knight and Josh Blackburn, were among the top try scorers in the league.

‘I am looking for us to be competitive at the top end this season with a top-six finish.’

Havant are boosted by the return of ex-captain Steve Cruddas, from Brighton, who will bring real quality to the team.

The experienced forward is only a couple of games short of 200 appearances for Havant.

And he will have an important part to play for the club, both on and off the pitch.

Back-row forward Joe Davis has also arrived on the south coast after playing National League division three rugby with Bury St Edmunds.

Davis has a good reputation as an accomplished player.

Havant have welcomed back scrum-half Jake Reynolds.

He has returned from the west country where he has been involved with Plymouth Albion.

They have brought Cameron Prentice back to the club and he comes in on the wing, while Ross Parkins will also be in contention for a place in the second-row after returning from Army duties.

Chobham will be difficult opening-day opponents.

They made a strong start to the season last year.

Havant lost to them early in the campaign before turning the tables at Hooks Lane.

Knight is looking for his men to make a flying start to this term.

He doesn’t want a repeat of last year when the Hooks Lane outfit had to play catch-up.

‘In the past we have been slow starters but we cannot afford that this time around,’ said Knight.

‘The league looks even more competitive this year.

‘We must look to set our stall out right from the start but will have to be at our best to get anything from Chobham.

‘It will be a competitive contest.’

Havant: Pat Gains, Ben Brierley, Loz Blackburn, Joel Knight, Cameron Prentice, Dave Sweeney, Grant Morris, Luke Marks, Justin Powell, Jack Ward-Golden, Bruce Neil, Ross Parkins, Nick Goodger, Steve Cruddas, Joe Davis. Replacements: Sam Cooksley, Dan Mundham, Nick Benjamin