Havant eyeing revenge as Tunbridge visit
Havant are gearing themselves up for the toughest test yet in their eagerly-anticipated London one south clash with Tunbridge Wells tomorrow at Hooks Lane.
It is second versus third in the league with Havant defending their unbeaten home record.
Tunbridge are one of just two teams who have beaten Havant so far winning 27-13 earlier in the season.
Senior coach Will Knight is backing his team to turn the tables on the Kent visitors.
‘This is a massive game for both teams at the top end of the league,’ said Knight.
‘If we can get the win it will see us put a bit more daylight between us and them.
‘Earlier in the season they beat us in a close game which we thought we could have won.
‘On the day, though, they took their chances better than we did.
‘We feel we have become a better team since then.
‘The players have become a lot better in their game management and don’t panic when put under pressure.
‘There is a calmness and togetherness about the squad.
‘They have developed a better ability at working out problems on the pitch which is the sign of a maturing squad.
‘An important part of our success stems from our performances at home and the players are determined to keep that up.
‘Tunbridge have also been going well so it should be a terrific encounter.’
The home side make a number of changes – some planned and some enforced upon them.
Tom Blackburn returns to the front row and the rest of the pack is also reshuffled.
Second row Mitch Goldring is ruled out by a rib injury so Nathan Bellman moves into his position from the back-row.
The experienced figure of Steve Cruddas comes into the back row.
In the three-quarters, full-back Darren Bamford is missing on Royal Navy Rugby League duties.
Loz Blackburn takes over while Scott Morris reappears on the wing after a spell out injured.
Knight feels that last week’s derby win at Gosport & Fareham helped prepare the players for their latest test.
‘In typical local derby fashion Gosport & Fareham threw everything at us from the start,’ he said.
‘It was very physical and intense.
‘When they forced us into a few errors then we kept our heads and continued to play our own game.
‘It also helped us get a few cobwebs out of the system after the Christmas break.
‘Tunbridge are only four points behind us so a win will give us a bigger buffer zone.
‘That could prove important because we have a tough few weeks ahead of us.
‘In the context of the season that makes it a big game.’
Havant: Blackburn L, Morris, Brierley, Knight, Rudder, Sweeney, John, Morgan, Trail, Blackburn T, Janes, Bellman, Davis, Hart, Cruddas, Biggs, Whitehead, Reynolds