Stortford vist requires high Havant standards

Havant scrum-half Liam Davenport
Havant scrum-half Liam Davenport

Portsmouth out to turn tables on Cranleighans

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Havant will need to raise their game if they are to secure a first league win of the season when in-form Bishop’s Stortford visit Hooks Lane in National Three London & south-east (2pm).

The visitors have reeled off five consecutive wins in recent weeks and will be confident of continuing their winning run at the expense of the division’s bottom club.

Last time out, Bishop’s achieved an impressive 32-24 success over third-placed Dorking, while Havant were on the wrong end of a 13-try thumping by Civil Service.

The odds are already stacked heavily against Havant maintaining their National League status at the end of the current season – and time is running out.

Director of Rugby Will Knight is realistic about his side’s prospects of survival and accepts the next few games could well seal their fate.

‘If we don’t start winning soon we will find ourselves dead and buried,’ said Knight.

‘For us to have any chance of staying up we need to turn our results around quickly.

‘The home game against Bracknell in a fortnight’s time and the games immediately after Christmas will decide our future.

‘We have been around long enough to know stranger things have happened in the second half of seasons.

‘The biggest challenge we face is trying to rebuild our confidence.

‘In lots of games we have started well but, when things go against us, it rocks our confidence and we lose our shape.

‘We cannot afford to do that and have to be far more robust and resilient.’

Once again, Havant are having to make do without key players, with try-scoring winger Jaryd Robinson in Africa playing in the Samurai Sevens tournament.

Military commitments also rule out second row forward Will Williams and powerful centre Darren Bamford.

On the plus side, Havant hope to have experienced scrum-half Liam Davenport back in the fold.

Meanwhile, Loz Blackburn returns from his military commitments to take his place on the wing.

‘The effort and commitment of the players to putting things right in training has been excellent,’ said Knight.

‘We have now had a fortnight’s rest and hopefully can come back refreshed.

‘Bishop’s Stortford, though, will present us with another stern challenge.

‘They are on a good run of results but earlier they lost games, which gives us some hope.

‘Whatever happens, the mood remains positive at the club because we know that whatever happens we are building for the future, wherever that might be.’

Havant: Duke, Sutton, Gains, Morris, Blackburn L, Knight, Davenport L, Marks, Austin, Elsmore, Roberts, Francis, Goodger, Burgess-Kelly, Barfoot, Southall, Cutting, Porter.