Knight keen to bounce back against rivals

Nick Benjamin scores against Chobham last week Picture: Mick Young
Nick Benjamin scores against Chobham last week Picture: Mick Young
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Havant chief rues missed opportunity

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Will Knight reckons his Havant squad are ready to tackle their crunch London one south derby at Gosport & Fareham head on (3pm).

They prepared for tomorrow’s game at Gosport Park by taking on the Army Regiment champions at Thorney Island in a training game during the week.

After narrowly losing their league opener against Chobham last weekend, the Hooks Lane side are looking to bounce back and chalk up a first win of the campaign.

That won’t be easy, however, in front of a partisan Gosport crowd.

‘Our games against Gosport are always keenly-fought affairs,’ admitted Knight.

‘You have to remember some of these lads have been knocking bits out of each other since they were six years old.

‘All the players look forward immensely to renewing the old rivalries.

‘We are under no illusions, however, as to how competitive this will be.

‘Throw in the local derby aspect and you have 50-per-cent greater intensity from the start.’

In last Saturday’s 25-22 defeat by Chobham, Havant were slow out of the blocks and paid a heavy price for a poor first half.

The home side were guilty of poor defence and a failure to take their chances at the other end of the pitch.

They found themselves trailing 22-3 at the half-time interval, leaving a mountain to climb in the second period.

That they got so close to rectifying the situation was a testament to the improvement they showed.

‘We allowed Chobham to get away from us and had to spend the rest of the game clawing our way back,’ added Knight.

‘That we got so close shows the resilience of the team.

‘We have been slow starters in games at times but it isn’t a massive problem.

‘If we had taken our chances then we would have had 21 points in the first half instead of just three.

‘Two clear try-scoring opportunities were thrown away and there was also a chance of a third.

‘We won’t be able to afford that luxury against Gosport and will have to be far more clinical when chances come our way.’

Havant introduced a number of new faces to their team in their opening game and Knight was pleased with their contributions.

Powerful back-row forward Dan Mundham made a big impression going on as a replacement.

His efforts see him promoted to the starting line-up for the first time.

Mundham is joined by prop-forward Jez Smith who returns on loan from National League Worthing.

Havant are also boosted by the presence of experienced hooker Steve Cruddas, who has recovered from a knock suffered in last weekend’s defeat.

‘With both teams looking to pick up a first win, this is going to be a tough contest,’ said Knight.

‘Gosport are a well-coached, well-drilled competitive side.

‘That is what we expect to face and we intend to meet the challenge head on.’

Havant: Pat Gains, Ben Brierley, Loz Blackburn, Joel Knight,

Nick Benjamin, Dave Sweeney, Jake Reynolds, Jez Smith, Steve Cruddas, Jack Ward-Golden, Bruce Neil, Ross Parkins, Dan Mundham, Joe Davis. Replacements: Sam Cooksey, Nick Goodger, Grant Morris