Havant denied with last kick

Havant's Tim Miller on the ball and team-mates, from left, Steve Cruddas, Loz Warren-West and Dan Mundham in support. Picture: Sarah Standing (142799-9992)
Havant's Tim Miller on the ball and team-mates, from left, Steve Cruddas, Loz Warren-West and Dan Mundham in support. Picture: Sarah Standing (142799-9992)
Gosport head coach Barry Bridgman

Gosport improvement needed against champions

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Havant suffered late heartbreak in their bid to chalk up a first win of the season as Charlton Park hauled them back for a 31-31 draw with the last kick of the game.

The Hooks Lane outfit had suffered four straight losses in London one south going into the game but ran leaders Sidcup close in a 20-19 loss in their previous match.

Havant were on course for a morale-boosting victory when they reached the half-time break with a 22-10 advantage and were defending for their lives with a 31-24 lead going into the closing moments.

But their current fortunes were summed up as they were unable to prevent a try and the subsequent conversion, which sealed a share of the spoils for Charlton Park.

Head coach Will Knight said: ‘They were throwing the kitchen sink at us and it’s tough to take that they managed to score with the last action of the game.

‘It was heartbreaking for the home support and the players.

‘We played very well and Charlton Park felt very relieved at the end that they had clawed it back for a draw.

‘It’s just the way things seem to be going for us at the moment.

‘It’s frustrating but if we keep playing the way we are and can add that little bit of a killer instinct, then we will start turning some of these very close games into victories.

‘There is a realisation within the squad that we are very close to things clicking. It will come.’

The hosts made a bright start to the contest when Ryan Ray touched down in the corner, only for Joel Knight to hit the post with a tough conversion from the touchline. Charlton Park then hit back with a penalty and a converted try to take a 10-5 lead before Havant took control before the break.

They were given a helping hand when the visitors were reduced to 14 men.

But Havant took full advantage as Jez Smith scored from a driven line-out, although Knight failed with his conversion.

And Knight was also unable to add the extra two points after Dan Mundham went over the line again soon afterwards.

Knight, however, made up for his kicking difficulties on the stroke of half-time as he scored a try and then converted to make it 22-10.

Aftere the break, an early onslaught saw the visitors move into a 24-22 lead before Knight found his range and kicked two penalties and a drop goal to put Havant in command at 31-24.

But after Mundham was shown a yellow card for slowing the ball down at a ruck, Havant had to see the game out with 14 men before the pressure finally told in the final few seconds.

While Havant still took three points from the contest after picking up the bonus point, it might have been five.

And the Havant head coach admitted those missed kicks in the first half turned out to be significant. Will Knight said: ‘Joel is a classy kicker.

‘It’s not like they were in front of the posts and all of them were difficult kicks but ultimately, it did cost us.

‘He had a very good second half but he just didn’t quite nail his kicks in the first half. In other games it wouldn’t make a difference but in such a close game, this time it did.

‘I don’t think it was the missed kicks that cost us, though.

‘It was missing tackles around the fringes that allowed some soft tries.

‘We can’t get any closer to getting that win, so hopefully it will come at Hove next weekend.’