Test of character awaits Havant

Liam Davenport is back in contention for Havant
Liam Davenport is back in contention for Havant
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Havant face another big test of character when they entertain Gravesend in National League three London & south east at Hooks Lane (3pm).

Four heavy defeats already this season have rocked confidence at the club but director of rugby Will Knight is determined to turn things around.

He is boosted by the return of some experienced faces but sixth-placed Gravesend will pose another stiff challenge.

‘Above all else, we need to tighten up in certain areas and produce a solid confidence-boosting performance,’ said Knight.

‘It is vital that we keep moving in the right direction and start trusting ourselves as a team to perform.

‘Across the whole team we need more players to hold their hands up and take charge of situations.

‘We have had to go back to basics, working hard to get our line-out and wide defence right.

‘They are two areas where opponents are hurting us at the moment.

‘We need to get different elements of our game functioning together so that we see things getting better every time we go out there.

‘It is frustrating because 30-plus players are working hard at training to get it right so they can transfer it out on the pitch.

‘The difficulty is that we have a relatively new squad containing a number of youngsters who are having to learn in the intensity of National League rugby.

‘It is good that we have some experienced players coming back in but they also have to produce the goods to be a real asset.’

Experienced scrum-half Liam Davenport is back in the squad, while second-row Ross Parkin, prop-forward Sam Cutting and winger Josh Blackburn all return.

Nathan Bellman makes his senior debut in the second-row after some impressive second-team performances.

Jaryd Robinson is expected to be out for another fortnight with rib damage, though.

‘We are facing a big challenge this season but we are up for it,’ said Knight.

‘It would be good to give the Hooks Lane crowd something to get behind.

‘Gravesend are a very solid, well-organised outfit who sit comfortably in mid-table.

‘They will be difficult opponents but, hopefully, we can set out to match them.’

Havant: Craig, Blackburn J, Morris, Bamford, Blackburn L, Knight J, Davenport L, Cutting, Burgess-Kelly, Fenn, Roberts, Parkin, Bellman, Horn, Whelan, White, Ward-Golden