Havant back on winning trail with victory over North Walsham - and set themselves up nicely for Wimbedon 'tester'

Head coach Will Knight hailed Havant's second half defensive resolve as they held off North Walsham to get back to winning ways in the London & SE Premier.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 11:02 am
Sean Shepherd, pictured in action for former club Gosport & Fareham, grabbed a try for Havant on his birthday against North Walsham

Havant went into their latest battle on the back of defeat at Sevenoaks last time out - their first defeat of the season - but served up the ideal response by delivering a 20-12 victory as they returned to Hooks Lane.

All 20 of Havant's points came in a blistering opening half-hour period with brothers Elliott and Nathan Bellman running in tries, as did birthday boy Sean Shepherd, with Jacob Knight firing over a penalty.

But North Walsham were determined to find a way back in truly atrocious conditions, with an early score after the restart making it 20-12.

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Yet Havant would display their defensive resolve, standing form for the remainder of the match, making it four wins from five games after gaining promotion to this level last season.

Knight said: ‘It was a cracking result on Saturday against a really good team. They were above us in the league and they came down on the back of an unbeaten record so it was really pleasing to get the result and get back to winning ways, albeit in pretty atrocious conditions.

‘It was an interesting afternoon, the weather was the same for both teams, certainly the first half was very, very challenging for both teams and as the game went on it got worse.

‘It was a question of being to find a way through it, defensively we dug in fantastically again, why did we have to do that? Probably because we didn’t manage the game in the second half quite as well as we should have done. We coughed up ball a little bit too easily which meant they were able to use the wind and kick us back into the corners so we were back to the attritional defence work.

‘They scored early in the second half, but we managed to hold them out for the rest of the second half. We’ll take that, on a difficult, wet day in terms of the conditions, to put in a defensive performance like that was fantastic.’

Havant now head into a week break well placed in fourth position. They return to action at current table-toppers Wimbledon on October 16 and Knight says it'll provide his men another good test to see where they are as a group.

The Havant head coach added: ‘We haven’t got a game this week but the week after we’ve got top of the table.

‘It’s a real tester for us, it’s what we strived to get promoted into these teams to play against the best team - at the moment Wimbledon are the best team in the league because they’re sitting top of the table.

‘We’re massively looking forward to that, hopefully we’ll have a few of the boys who are out injured and unavailable back available for that, so selection will be very difficult which is the way like it to be. Hopefully we can put a bit of pressure on Wimbledon and see what comes out of that game.’