Knight’s men show class in derby

Dave Sweeney scores for Havant.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (143652-344)
Dave Sweeney scores for Havant. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143652-344)
Havant captain Joel Knight. Picture: Neil Marshall (171150-11)

Havant skipper reflects on ugly win

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Will Knight felt Havant were good value for their 22-16 London one south derby win over Gosport & Fareham at Hooks Lane on Saturday.

The head coach praised his players for keeping their discipline in a full-blooded affair and believed they were were superior – particularly in the three-quarters.

Although Havant’s cause was helped by two yellow cards for the visitors in the first half, Knight insisted the breakthrough had been coming anyway.

‘We were the better team on the day, played more rugby and created the most opportunities,’ he said.

‘It was a great day for the club with the game attracting a huge crowd to the ground.

‘That showed just how important the derby was to both clubs and that it really mattered.

‘They were rewarded with a terrific, fiercely-contested game of rugby played in the right spirit.

‘The game turned out to be everything expected when these two teams play each other.

‘We managed to nullify the main Gosport threat and some of our defending was magnificent.

‘The team went into the game with a plan and delivered what was needed.

‘We played intelligent rugby and scored some good tries.’

A full-blooded opening half-hour saw defences in the ascendancy.

But Havant struck the first blow when Dave Sweeney looped around the outside to score the opening try, which was converted by Joel Knight.

Gosport had already had one player yellow carded and from the restart another joined him for taking the Havant catcher out in the air.

Soon after Ben Brierley added a second try – powering over after Ed Wilkes had been stopped short of the line.

Back to full strength at the start of the second half, the visitors threw everything at Havant and celebrated a try to leave the game finely balanced at 12-8.

It was the hosts, however, who regained the initiative midway through the half with a James Read try.

Joel Knight converted and kicked a penalty to put Havant in charge.

The visitors’ final score came at the death – after the home side had Read and Steve Cruddas yellow carded.

‘It is an important win for us, ending a run of three successive losses in the league,’ said Will Knight.

‘Getting back to winning ways was crucial going into the Christmas break.

‘We kept our cool in what can be a feisty affair.

‘And we reaped the rewards of a workmanlike, professional performance.

‘Even when things were going against us we kept our shape and structures.

‘It was also nice to have players like Jared Hayler coming back into the squad and proving effective.

‘The win sets us up nicely for the second half of the season when we hope to push on further again.

‘We have shown already we can be very competitive at this level.’