Havant make big Gains in defeat of Brighton
Havant returned to winning ways in London one south with a hard-fought 18-15 success over Brighton at Hooks Lane.
The victory was built on a supreme team performance, although full-back Pat Gains was the hero at the death.
With the hosts holding a three-point lead, Brighton broke out and looked certain to score until Gains got back to pull off an excellent saving tackle.
With Grant Morris completing the turnover, it resulted in a penalty which allowed Havant to clear their lines.
Gains had earlier crossed for one of Havant’s two tries on their way to a welcome win.
Head coach Will Knight hailed the determination of his team to ensure they came away with victory.
‘It was a great performance and I didn’t ever feel we were not going to win it,’ said the Havant chief.
‘We had a degree of control throughout and played much of the game on the front foot.
‘The players showed good belief and possessed the expectation of winning we have been working to develop.
‘Brighton gave us a good thrashing at their place earlier in the season, so we felt we had a point to prove.
‘Afterwards we were delighted we had set the record straight.’
Havant started brightly and soon opened up an 8-0 lead through a converted try and a penalty.
The forwards and backs linked well before whipping the ball out to the left-hand side for Gains to score in the corner.
Joel Knight kicked the conversion before quickly adding a penalty.
The Sussex side hit back with two tries of their own to edge ahead 10-8 before Joel Knight slotted another penalty to restore Havant’s lead.
On the stroke of half-time, Havant struck again when Darren Bamford finished off a terrific move that started deep inside home territory.
The second half continued to be a close-fought affair.
And it looked ominous for Havant when Steve Cruddas was yellow-carded and Brighton notched their third try of the game.
Despite the setback, Havant continued to dominate – apart from the late scare when Brighton broke out.
‘Our defence was very strong,’ said Will Knight.
‘Brighton had no answer to us in the scrummage, where we dominated all afternoon.
‘We also showed a bit more desire all over the pitch.
‘It was never going to be a pretty game of rugby in the conditions. It was all about being determined.
‘We have now beaten the four teams immediately above us and it shows we can mix it with anyone in our league.
‘There is a growing belief within the squad of what they are capable of.’
This belief will be tested further in the next game when Havant take on league leaders Guildford at Hooks Lane.