Havant forwards lay down platform for derby win against Gosport

Havant and Gosport do battle. Picture: Roger Smith
Havant and Gosport do battle. Picture: Roger Smith
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Havant powered their way into the Hampshire Cup final with a 34-22 win over local rivals Gosport & Fareham at Gosport Park.

The London one south side had to fight off dogged resistance from their hosts but eventually ran out comfortable winners.

Havant coach Will Knight was impressed with the way his team performed.

He felt they could easily have won by a bigger margin.

‘I don’t think the final scoreline reflected our dominance,’ said Havant coach Will Knight.

‘Gosport didn’t have an answer to us up front and we established a good platform throughout the game.

‘Unfortunately, in the first half we squandered quite a few chances and that allowed them to stay in touch for longer than we liked.

‘Gosport battled hard but from our point of view we should have made a lot more of our possession.

‘To go in level at the break, after playing all the rugby was disappointing.

‘We seemed to get ourselves into good try-scoring positions only to knock the ball on.

‘When Gosport went ahead at the start of the second half that galvanised us into action.

‘We scored four tries in quick succession to pull away.’

The two sides swapped early penalties before Nick Goodger put Havant ahead with the first of his two tries.

The home side hit back through a Wes Dugan try converted by his brother Wayne to level the scores 10-10 at the break.

Another Wes Dugan try, at the start of the second half, boosted Gosport’s belief – only for Havant to step up their game.

Goodger crossed for his second try and captain Joel Knight added a quick brace to put Havant in the driving seat.

Centre James Read put the icing on the cake late on with a fifth try for the visitors.

Gosport & Fareham then showed their spirit as Kieran McRoberts crossed for a try.

Coach Scott Ashley felt his side could take a lot of positives from the game.

They were always up against it with many senior players unavailable.

‘I was proud of the lads who played because we were nowhere near full strength,’ said Ashley.

‘We were forced to push a number of younger players in but it was a good experience for them.

‘At the start of the second half we also suffered further disruption because of injuries.

‘That forced us to reshuffle and against a team like Havant that is always going to tell.

‘It was proper cup rugby though – competitive, hard and fair, played in the right spirit.

‘Our experienced players like Wes and Wayne Dugan, Ben Madigan and Matt Flower were terrific, running around helping them.

‘The lads also showed a lot of resolve, when losing late on, to push the ball wide and claim the final try through Kieran McRoberts.

‘If I am honest, the cup is less of a priority than our push to win London two south west.’