Havant aiming high after easing drop fears

Havant's Ben Brierley, left. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132520-477)
Havant's Ben Brierley, left. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132520-477)

Portsmouth out to turn tables on Cranleighans

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Havant travel to Dover tomorrow with the pressure off, after virtually ensuring their London one south survival.

Last weekend’s 26-5 win over Hove took the Hooks Lane side 22 points clear of the drop zone with five games left to play.

‘Barring a disaster of huge proportions, we are safe,’ said coach Will Knight.

‘It is a much better position than we were in this time last year.

‘Our aim now is to gain the highest finish possible.

‘Ideally, we would like to go through the rest of the campaign unbeaten.

‘We feel the squad has come on leaps and bounds this season because of a lot of hard work put in both on and off the pitch.

‘But it is not just about what we have done this season, rather what we have been building towards since we were relegated from the National League a couple of seasons ago.

‘We took a decision then to concentrate on providing the best possible environment for players to develop.

‘The gym facilities have improved and we have been able to focus on individual needs.

‘New players have been attracted to the club but the bedrock of our team remains those coming through our junior set-up.’

Havant are forced to make changes as they look to complete a league double over Dover – following a 27-0 win at Hooks Lane earlier in the season.

Second-team captain Pat Gains replaces the unavailable Harry O’Brien at full-back, and Ben Brierley moves into the centre in place of injured James Read.

Havant are boosted by the availability of forwards Ollie O’Gorman and Sam Cooksley.

Nick Goodger also returns to the back row after missing the Hove clash.

‘We are looking to continue building on our progress this season,’ said Knight.

‘We have played with a lot more confidence and precision.

‘That has allowed us to benefit from the quality that we have in our squad.

‘Gradually, we are edging ourselves into a position where we can get back in contention for National League rugby.’