Cobham punish Havant for sloppy finale

Ben Brierley powers over a for a Havant try. Picture: Mick Young (132643-01)
Ben Brierley powers over a for a Havant try. Picture: Mick Young (132643-01)
Tom Whitehouse. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-81)

Pearce fires warning to triumphant Portsmouth

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Havant suffered a fourth consecutive London one south defeat despite a stirring display in their 23-19 defeat at the hands of Cobham at Hooks Lane.

It proved another frustrating afternoon for coach Will Knight.

After recovering from an appalling start, the hosts got themselves into a good position to go on and claim their first win of the season.

But as the game entered the closing stages, it was the visitors who capitalised on a mistake to sneak the verdict.

‘It is hugely frustrating but at the same time there are lots of positives,’ said Knight.

‘Twenty minutes in we looked dead and buried and two years ago we would have crumbled.

‘Once we started getting the basics right and, to a degree, sorted out our set-pieces, we improved.

‘For the last 20 minutes of the first half they didn’t know how to handle us.

‘It showed again that once we get a platform and get the ball moving forwards we are a very dangerous team.

‘In some ways after getting ourselves in front we should have gone on and won it.’

Havant looked a shambles in the opening stages as they conceded three tries and had replacement Dan Roberts yellow carded for a professional foul.

It looked bleak but they suddenly hit their stride to turn the game on its head.

Centre Ben Brierley powered his way over for a try from inside the Cobham twenty-two.

And straight from the restart Harry Welton burst 40 yards upfield to set up another attacking position.

Joel Knight cut inside and put outside-half Dave Sweeney in under the posts.

Knight added the conversion and on the stroke of half-time cut through the visitors defence like a knife through butter to score a try of his own.

The Havant captain’s second conversion then gave his side an unlikely 19-15 interval lead.

The second half was a tight-fought affair, with the home side producing terrific defence early on.

Once they weathered the storm it looked as if Havant would claim the win.

With the game heading towards stoppage-time, however, the hosts were caught offside at a ruck, gave away a further 10 yards for dissent and from the resulting line-out Cobham drove over for the killer try.

A drop goal at the death sealed Havant’s fate.

‘Our defence was superb at the start of the second half,’ said Knight.

‘And that makes it all the more disappointing that when they scored their final try it was such a soft one.

‘It was a mistake and put them in a position to score.

‘Even then I still felt we had enough to win the game.

‘What we didn’t do, though, is back ourselves enough to keep the ball in hand.

‘We have shown we are not that far away.

‘Each week we are showing improvement in lots of areas and in terms of performances, we have not been that far away from any of our opponents.’