Havant keen to make most of Read

James Read
James Read
Havant Ladies pose with their children after recording victory over Jersey Reds

Shepherd leads way as Havant flock dominate

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Havant will start the powerful James Read in the centre for their London one south contest against Sidcup at Hooks Lane (2.30pm).

Read started at outside-half against Haywards Heath last weekend before being moved into the centre early in the second half.

There he renewed his old centre partnership with Joel Knight – and it soon paid dividends, with Read grabbing a hat-trick of tries.

It made all the difference, helping Havant to a 34-34 draw after the visitors had made a shocking start to the game.

‘James is a quality player and has been one of our top try-scorers every season he has played,’ said captain Joel Knight.

‘He adds a different dimension to our game and is a real asset.

‘The fact that he has returned after playing in America is a big bonus because we have played together in the centre since the under-15s.’

Havant, not for the first time, were rescued by Read’s tries and Knight’s last-kick conversion to seal a bonus point against Haywards Heath.

Once again, though, the Hooks Lane side were guilty of making life difficult for themselves with a slow start.

The visitors found themselves 19 points adrift after only 20 minutes through a combination of poor concentration and weak defence.

They know they won’t be able to afford such a luxury against fifth-placed Sidcup.

‘The slow starts are killing us,’ said Knight.

‘We have shown that when we start properly and get our defence right we are a difficult team to beat.

‘That was the case in our wins over top-half teams Brighton and Dover.

‘In our position results are the key and it is important that we get out of the blocks quickly this weekend.

‘We can’t keep making life difficult for ourselves.

‘Our aim has to be to put the pressure on Sidcup from the start.

‘If we can make a good start then it helps the home crowd get behind us and that makes a difference.

‘We need to pick up a couple more wins before the Christmas break and are going into this game with high hopes of achieving one of them.