League the priority for Havant despite cup final

WILL KNIGHT believes strength in depth can prove the key to Havant retaining the Gales HSB Hampshire Cup against Winchester at North Walls Park (3pm).

Friday, 14th April 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:24 pm
Havant coach Will Knight. Picture: Mick Young

But the London One south play-offs remain Havant’s main priority for the season.

With the decisive game against leaders Sidcup only a week away, Knight is unlikely to take too many risks with his senior players.

He does, however, have a large squad to choose from.

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And Knight insists the team he sends out in the cup final will be equally as competitive.

He said: ‘We are including a respectable number of first-team players.

‘It is not a full first team but, at the same time, a very strong representation.

‘This season we have been able to boast a very strong pool of players to choose from.

‘Second-team coach Lewis Osborne and captain Christian Roberts have done a fantastic job.

‘They are unbeaten all season and carried all before them in the Hampshire Merit table.

‘That is a remarkable achievement at any level.

‘It is very positive and a fundamental part of our success at senior level.

‘The strength of a senior side is very much underpinned by the players pushing for places.

‘Whenever players have stepped into the senior side this season, they have done a good job.

‘That is a sign of a club ready to push on.’

The Hampshire Cup has struggled to find a place in the packed rugby calendar in recent years.

Last season the competition was abandoned when it proved impossible to find free dates to stage the games.

However, Havant have remained supporters of the event.

‘We have always used the Hampshire Cup as a focal point,’ Knight added.

‘The players regard it as an important element of a successful season.

‘This year our priority has to be trying to make the league play-offs.

‘Having said that, we are also determined to retain the trophy.

‘We are under no illusions as to how tough it is going to be.

‘Winchester will be keen to cause an upset on the big occasion.

‘They last won it in 1999 and, although they play a level below us, will be dangerous opponents.’

After the cup final, Havant’s focus will switch immediately to their decisive league game the following week.

Knight’s team go into the final day of the season with a three-point advantage over play-off chasing rivals Tunbridge Wells.

If Havant can be the first team to win at leaders Sidcup this season, they will be guaranteed the play-off place.

If they lose, it will leave the door open for Tunbridge to pip them.