King calls on troops to Graves-end drop fears

Havant's James McSeveny
Havant's James McSeveny
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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Havant travel to Gravesend knowing they still have work to do to extend their National League stay.

Last week’s crucial five-point home win over fourth-placed Ampthill has given the Hooks Lane side a huge lifeline but there is no room for complacency.

With four games remaining, Havant are just one place above the drop zone and only three points ahead of Basingstoke.

‘This weekend could be pivotal in our fate,’ said director of rugby Adam King.

‘With Basingstoke having to go to the league leaders, where they are unlikely to get anything, if we can win it will be a big psychological blow.

‘There is no chance we will allow anybody to think the job has been done because if results go against us we could just as easily find ourselves in the bottom three.

‘Historically, 40 points has been enough to keep teams up but the fact we have that number and are not safe just shows how competitive our league is.

‘Realistically, we should have been home and dry by now but have been guilty of not putting sides away.

‘The players rose to the occasion last week and played their rugby without any fear of failure.

‘We will need to do the same again at Gravesend and be prepared to play with confidence.’

Once again, though, Havant are hampered by injury and unavailability.

In the front row, Tom Wells is troubled by a shoulder injury which forced him off against Ampthill and hooker Rob Elsmore is away.

The visitors are hoping to have the experienced figure of Graeme Butterworth back to partner Rich Neill in the second row.

There is better news in the back division where Havant hope to remain unchanged.

The only doubt is winger Jaryd Robinson (shoulder).

Last week’s half-back partnership of scrum-half Liam Davenport and outside-half James McSeveney proved very influential and King is hoping they can repeat their success.

‘Having Liam Davenport back at scrum-half gave us greater control and James McSeveney had one of his most effective games of the season.

‘McSeveney asked a lot of questions of the Ampthill defence with his breaks and also worked hard when we had to defend.

‘We need them to pose Gravesend equally difficult problems.’

Havant: Keyte, Robinson, Dukes, Morris, Stenhouse, McSeveney, Davenport, Cutting, Horn, Wells, Wheeler, Neill, Butterworth, Barfoot, Hart, Porter, Knight, Stapleton, Matthews, Frith, Marks.