Will Knight praised Havant’s magnificent defending as they suffocated hosts Brighton to win 18-7 in their first London one south match of 2015.
After conceding an early try, the visitors spent the rest of the game knocking their hosts back and giving them nowhere to go.
On a wet pitch that soon cut up, Havant showed the ability to adapt their game to win a war of attrition between the two packs of forwards.
Brighton stuck to their pick-and-go game around the fringes of the breakdown and the visitors snuffed it out to secure an excellent start to the new year.
Havant head coach Knight was delighted with the way his side performed – especially the number of tackles made and the way the forwards battled so hard throughout.
He said: ‘This is a very good win for us in the most challenging of conditions.
‘Our defence was superb and, after the opening minutes, denied Brighton any headway.
‘At the end of their attacks we either turned the ball over or pushed them back, denying them any room to move.
‘Our defence is something we have worked hard at and pride ourselves on.
‘Key statistics for us are the number of tackles made and the work-rate of the forwards.
‘We recently had ex-England coach, Dick Best, come and do a session at the club and he left us with some good ideas.
‘One was the importance of getting off the mark quickly in getting to the breakdown.
‘It is something we have improved and it brought results in this game.’
Brighton bundled over for an unconverted try after five minutes.
On a tough day with conditions so difficult due to the weather, it was not surprising all the tries came from close-range play.
Both teams had opportunities in midfield but good defence prevented them being developed any further.
A key feature, though, was the dominance of the Havant scrummage.
It was no surprise Havant’s opening score on the stroke of half-time came from them.
A classic five metre scrum, close to the Brighton line, ended with Jared Hayler picking up and diving over.
Joel Knight added the conversion to give Havant a 7-5 lead at the break.
Both teams added penalties at the start of the second half before Havant talisman Steve Cruddas, on his return to his old club, grabbed the decisive score.
Full-back Ed Wilkes kicked superbly to set up a line-out close to the home line.
And when the ball ran free, Cruddas was first to react.
Knight converted again and Havant were home and dry.
The result ensured the Hooks Lane outfit climbed above Brighton to sixth spot in the league.
‘We lost to Gosport and Brighton at the start of the season,’ added Knight.
‘It is good to start turning those results around, going into the second half of the season.
‘The challenge we are setting ourselves is to now show the capacity to close games out against the top sides.
‘We have shown ourselves to be competitive against anyone in our league.
‘The challenge is to do it week in, week out.
‘If we can do that, then at some point in the future we will be ready to return to the next level.’