Havant chief turns to old heads in promotion charge

Havant continue their push for the top of London one south as they defend their unbeaten home record against Cobham at Hooks Lane (2pm).

Friday, 2nd December 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:32 pm
Darren Bamford. Picture: Neil Marshall

Will Knight’s side moved into second place with an impressive 46-28 win at CS Rugby 1863 – leapfrogging their hosts in the process.

Another home win will help them maintain the pressure on Sidcup, who hold an eight-point lead at the top.

Since drawing with the pacesetters on the opening day of the season, Havant have rattled off five successive home wins.

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However, Knight is impressing on his team they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Havant are also opting for experience in a bid to keep their momentum going.

A trio of old heads in full-back Darren Bamford and back-row forwards Steve Cruddas and Joe Davis return to the starting line-up.

‘We have had to make some tough calls in selection,’ said Knight.

‘Coming off the back of two wins, it would have been tempting to stick with the same team.

‘But we feel some slight alterations can improve us further.

‘It means some players who have done nothing wrong find themselves on the replacements’ bench.

‘We are looking at this as a real positive.

‘It will happen more and more and is the ultimate route to success.

‘For the first time in many years we possess a strength in depth across all positions.’

Cruddas is vastly-experienced, with more than 200 Havant games under his belt.

If it hadn’t been for a couple of seasons playing at Brighton, he would have chalked up even more.

He is an aggressive defender, excellent scavenger of the ball and is highly skilled at providing important links.

Davis is of a similar ilk and is an intelligent player who reads the ball well.

The pair of them, along with Gav Hart, provide a balanced back-row.

Bamford comes in at full-back allowing Loz Blackburn to replace Jerome Rudder, who is at the Dubai Sevens, on the wing.

The Royal Navy Rugby League captain has been at sea but will add to the Havant firepower with his strong running.

Knight warns his side will need to maintain their high standards if they are to chalk up another win.

‘We know Cobham will be very competitive,’ said Knight.

‘We know we are there to be shot at and teams love nothing better than to topple a top-two side.

‘Against CS Rugby our fitness levels were impressive and we must look to achieve that again.’

HAVANT: Darren Bamford, Loz Blackburn, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight, Scott Morris, Dave Sweeney, Wayne John, Luke Marks, Jerome Trail, Tom Blackburn, Richard Janes, Mitch Goldring, Joe Davis, Steve Cruddas, Gav Hart. Replacements: Armundus Morgan, Nathan Bellman, Jake Hewitt