King’s men in call to arms

Al Davenport faces a late fitness test
Al Davenport faces a late fitness test
Tom Whitehouse. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-81)

Pearce fires warning to triumphant Portsmouth

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Adam King fired a Hooks Lane rallying cry and challenged his Havant troops to show their mental toughness.

With their National League status on the line, the strugglers host Dorking tomorrow (2.30pm).

And Havant’s director of rugby is determined to see his side arrest a run of three straight defeats.

King said: ‘We realise times are tough but we have to dig in.

‘During the week we trained well and there is a collective will in the squad to improve on our past two poor performances.

‘We don’t want to be labelled as a group who got relegated.

‘The squad is still racked by injuries but we showed before Christmas we are still capable of winning games at National League level.

‘There is a need to return to the resilience we showed during that period. Now is the time to show a degree of mental toughness because we are close to achieving our goal.’

King was left contemplating his future after last weekend’s crushing 67-5 defeat at Bracknell in National League division three London & south east.

It was a morale-sapping result for the Hooks Lane outfit but they have regrouped during the week and are focusing on what they have to do to safeguard the club’s National League future.

‘Another couple of wins could push us over the line and keep us up,’ said King.

‘With both us and Basingstoke struggling, we could face a situation where we no longer have any National League rugby in the county.

‘That would be a great shame. It is going to be tough but if we can regenerate in the next month or so we can do it.’

Dorking will provide another stiff test. They too suffered a heavy defeat last week – at the hands of Hereford – and will be keen to get their promotion bid back on track.

Havant can take heart from the fact fellow-strugglers North Walsham ran them close a few weeks ago.

But King and his coaches are once again forced to reshuffle their line-up.

Experienced prop Al Davenport faces a fitness test, with Luke Marks standing by if he fails.

There is more experience missing in the forwards with Graeme Butterworth unavailable.

The home side do, however, hope to have experienced pair Sid Claffey and Rich Stapleton in the centre.

And full-back David Keyte is set to return from his studies at Southampton University.

Havant: Keyte, Dukes, Sutton, Claffey, Stapleton, McSeveny, Morris, Wheeler, Cutting, Marks, Neill, Whittle, Porter, Horn, Hart, Barfoot, Osborne, Booth.