Havant upbeat for Guildford test

Justin Powell is back for Havant
Justin Powell is back for Havant
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Doncaster Knights Rugby Club and former Havant rugby player Ian Williams. Picture: Doncaster Knights Rugby Club/PA Wire

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Will Knight has praised the work of the club academy as Havant prepare to take on London one south title challengers Guildford at Hooks Lane (2.30pm).

A number of youngsters have graduated through the academy and played an important part in the senior side this season.

Scrum-half Jake Hewitt is a prime example.

‘Jake is a local lad who has come through our junior ranks and become an important player for us,’ said Knight.

‘We introduced him into the squad last year and he has become a regular starter.

‘He has grabbed his opportunity with both hands and met every challenge put in front of him.

‘As a scrum-half he has proved deceptively strong and is a ferocious tackler.

‘You often see him in a tackle situation, stripping the ball away from opponents as they go to ground.

‘He is tenacious and doesn’t shirk anything.

‘As a youngster he is learning more and more to take charge of the forwards in front of him.’

The club are well served in the scrum-half berth, with Jake Reynolds and Grant Morris also vying for a place.

Knight has been pleased with the progress made by his squad this season.

And they go into the game on the back of a hard-fought win at Charlton Park.

In that game Havant scored five tries and displayed the ability to close out a game to ensure a win.

Knight knows his team will need to be at their very best if they are to upset Guildford who will present them with a big test.

Trying to match the top sides will help the Hooks Lane outfit plan where they are in their bid to return to the National League.

They want to give their young players the chance to perform at that level.

‘If we have aspirations to compete at the top end then we have to go out and show our mettle,’ said Knight.

‘The ultimate aim is to work our way back towards National League rugby.

‘It is the youngsters coming through that are our future and will hopefully enable us to achieve that.

‘They are the lifeblood and we want to continue encouraging them through.

‘It is the only way clubs like ours can have any sustainability.’

The home side are boosted in the forwards by the return of Justin Powell at tight-head prop and Steve Cruddas in the back row.

Pete Living makes his first appearance in the senior side at full-back for over a season after recovering from a knee injury.