Havant stay positive after heavy defeat

Havant skipper Joel Knight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133218-9936)
Havant skipper Joel Knight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133218-9936)
Tom Whitehouse. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-81)

Pearce fires warning to triumphant Portsmouth

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Havant came unstuck in the mud as their recent London one south revival ended with a 31-3 defeat at the hands of Gravesend at Hooks Lane.

The second-placed visitors were rarely in any danger after blitzing their hosts with two converted tries in the opening stages.

When Gravesend stretched into a 28-point lead a minute into the second half, it looked bleak for the hosts.

But to their credit Will Knight’s team stuck to their task and defended magnificently to deny the Kent side any further points.

Four times the visitors drove over the Havant line only to be held up by some brave defence.

Knight admitted his team were second-best throughout but felt there were still a number of positives.

‘To be fair Gravesend are the best team we have played all season by a distance,’ said the head coach.

‘They were very workmanlike and clinical in what they did – keeping us pinned back for most of the game.

‘The way they managed to keep off-loading the ball considering the conditions was excellent.

‘Their front five were very much on top but I am pleased with the way we stuck at it and didn’t buckle.

‘It would have been easy to fall away at the end but we kept digging in.’

Havant were rocked back on their heels from the opening whistle by their second-placed visitors.

The writing was on the wall as early as the first minute when the Gravesend three-quarters forced a gap in the defence to open their account with a try.

Not surprisingly the league’s leading goal-kicker Miki Zanirito added the easy conversion. Soon afterwards the powerful Gravesend forwards drove over from a catch-and-drive line-out close to the Havant line for a second converted try.

At that stage Havant must have realised they were in for a long 

Captain Joel Knight gave them some respite with a penalty but two tries on the stroke of half-time dumped Havant back in the doldrums.

The alarm bells started to ring with another Gravesend score at the start of the second period.

‘It was pleasing heads didn’t go down and our players kept throwing themselves into the tackles,’ said head coach Knight.

‘We can take that out of it but have to be honest we were well beaten in the scrums and the tight.

‘Because of that we never got an opportunity to get onto the front foot.

‘When we actually got a little bit of ball we looked quite dangerous – creating reasonable opportunities to get in behind them.

‘Sometimes, though, you have to hold your hand up and admit the opposition were the better team.’

Knight believes the defeat is not a huge setback to his team’s recent revival.

‘We have games ahead of us we will expect to win and that can push us to a top-five finish,’ said Knight.

Havant: O’Brien, Brierley, Read, Knight J, Wilkes, Sweeney, Morris, Marks, Cooksley, Ward-Golden, Neil, Copeland, Anchor, Davies, O’Gorman. Reps: Powell, Warren-West, Benjamin