Hampshire aiming to finish county championship campaign on a high

Hampshire are looking to avoid a third successive defeat as they end their County Championship division one campaign against Kent at Hooks Lane on Saturday (3pm).

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 1:49 pm
Havant's Joe Davis makes his return for Hampshire against Kent. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Though beaten in both their opening games the team have done well in the matches.

They were highly competitive against last season’s runners-up Hertfordshire and were only beaten with the last kick of the game at Devon.

Senior coach Ian Chandler has been proud of the way his players have coped in their first season at the top level of county rugby.

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He said: ‘We have been in both our previous games right to the finish and shown that we are capable of competing at this level. It has been about small margins.

‘One thing we have learned is that if you make mistakes at this level then opponents will punish them.

‘At times when we have had our chances we have not been clinical enough in taking them.

‘All the other teams have been largely made up of players who are regularly playing National League rugby.

‘We have not been overawed by them and shown that we can be competitive.

‘I am proud of the effort and commitment all our players have put in at the end of a long, hard season.

‘Now we have to do it one more time against arguably our toughest opponents.’

The Kent visitors include 11 players in their starting line-up who feature regularly either for National League One side Blackheath or National two South outfit, Canterbury.

Chandler has most of his players available for the match which will be played at Havant’s home ground.

He makes just two changes with Havant’s Joe Davis returning to the back row and Portsmouth’s Curtis Barnes reappearing on the wing.

The Hampshire players will also be spurred on to produce a performance in memory of Portsmouth and Hampshire player Adam Long who lost his battle against cancer earlier this week at the age of 27.

‘Adam, whose funeral is in the morning, would undoubtedly have been in our squad,’ said Chandler.

‘In some ways it will be a sombre afternoon but the players will be determined to do it for their ex-team-mate.

‘We are all looking forward to the game and no-one will be taking a backward step.

‘Our aim will be to go out on the pitch and cause an upset.

‘To do that we know we will have to play at our very best.

‘We have nothing to lose and I would urge people to turn up and get behind their players.’