Havant set sights on return to winning ways

Havant are setting their sights on a return to winning ways in London one south by beating Maidstone at Hooks Lane tomorrow (3pm).

Friday, 30th September 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:01 pm
Steve Cruddas Picture: Allan Hutchings

Will Knight’s team are looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat of the season at Tunbridge Wells.

The home side are also aiming to turn the tables on their Kent visitors, who did the double over them last season.

To do so, Knight accepts his side will need to take on board the lessons from their first reverse.

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‘We came away from our last game feeling that it was an opportunity lost,’ said Knight.

‘Tunbridge Wells are a good side and top of our league but we still felt they were eminently beatable.

‘It was one we felt that we let go.

‘Some of what we did wasn’t good enough and lacked attention to detail in finishing things off.

‘I didn’t have to say anything afterwards and left it to the players.

‘They were totally honest with each other about it afterwards and all felt a little frustrated.

‘They made all the right noises about what needed to be done.

‘Against Maidstone we have to make sure that we put that right.

‘They beat us twice last season and are a big, physical combative side.

‘We want to be at the top end of our league challenging and as a home game it is one we must look to be winning.

‘There has been a great response from the players at training this week and they are determined to improve still further.’

The home side have made wholesale changes in their back-row with the return of three vastly-experienced campaigners.

Joe Davis, Steve Cruddas and Gav Hart, who have all been around the block and played a good standard of rugby, are back in the starting line-up.

‘They are all fierce competitors who bring everything to the party,’ said Knight.

‘Also they are leaders who will have a big influence on the other players around them.

‘They know they are under pressure to perform because there is a lot of competition for their places.’

Front-row rotation sees Tom Blackburn come in with Justin Powell moving to the replacements bench.

Richie Janes replaces Harrison Young in the second row.

In the three-quarters, scrum-half Jake Reynolds is unavailable so Wayne ‘Cowboy’ John is drafted in.

John returned to the club during the summer after a spell with United Services Portsmouth.

‘I expect to see ‘Cowboy’ as he is known throughout the club directing and organising the forwards in front of him,’ said Knight.

The rest of the three-quarters remain unchanged.

Havant are currently sitting in mid-table but a bonus point win could take them could lift them into the top three.

Havant: Ed Wilkes, Scott Morris, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight, Loz Blackburn, Dave Sweeney, Wayne John, Tom Blackburn, Jerome Trail, Luke Marks, Mitch Goldring, Richie Janes, Steve Cruddas, Gav Hart, Joe Davis. Replacements: Justin Powell, Harrison Young, Jake Hewitt