Read treble sparks spirited Havant fightback

James Read. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (124077-9)
James Read. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (124077-9)
Tom Whitehouse. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-81)

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James Read grabbed a hat-trick of tries as Havant came back from the dead to snatch a 34-34 draw at Haywards Heath.

Read completed his treble in the last minute of the London one south clash.

And it was left to captain Joel Knight to secure the draw by converting with the final kick of the game.

‘I’m sure it was an exciting game for the neutrals but it didn’t do my blood pressure any good,’ said Havant coach Will Knight.

‘We are making a habit of coming back from the brink but it is nerve-wracking for us coaches.

‘It provides great theatre and entertainment but I could well do without it.

‘I am at odds to explain why we started so slowly when we warmed up well and looked sharp before the first whistle.

‘Conceding 19 points in the opening 20 minutes left us a mountain to climb.

‘Not that long ago we would have folded after that, so I suppose the one positive is that we did fight back.’

Havant paid a heavy price for being slow out of the blocks – conceding three quick tries to a team yet to win this season. Poor defensive organisation, weak tackling and a lack of concentration all contibuted to the visitors’ situation.

Joel Knight pegged the home side back with a penalty.

He then converted a Loz Blackburn try to launch a recovery for the visitors.

But further sloppy play saw Havant concede two more scores either side of the interval to leave them trailing 31-10 and staring defeat in the face.

‘We made a couple of adjustments at that stage,’ said the Hooks Lane chief.

‘We brought Dave Sweeney on at outside half – allowing Read to renew his partnership with Joel in our centre.

‘And it paid dividends almost immediately.’

In the 48th minute, Read launched his one-man assault on the Haywards Heath tryline.

He took a great line from a Joel Knight pass to open his account.

Nine minutes later the skipper converted again after Read had grabbed his second try.

At that point – trailing 31-24 with their tails up – Havant felt it was game on.

The two sides swapped penalties to leaving Havant seven points down with darkness descending.

But they refused to give up and after parking themselves on the home goalline, the visitors were rewarded with Read’s third try.

Not for the first time this season Joel Knight kept his nerve to knock over the final kick.

‘We have got to concentrate more,’ said Will Knight.

‘The team has shown when they do stay focused and play their rugby they are difficult to beat.

‘We have to stop making life difficult for ourselves.

‘With the bonus point it means technically we only dropped one point but this was a game we were targeting to win.

‘We are still third from bottom but it is all very close in the league.

‘One bonus-point win would be enough to take us into mid-table.’