2002-03 SEASON SUMMARY

A first season back in the national leagues after a three year gap started with great optimism in the balmy days of August and September, but ultimately, after numerous twists and turns of fate, ended in heartache for the Hooks Lane squad as they were relegated back down to London 1.

An opening day thriller with a 43-32 victory over Old Patesians, followed by handsome victories over Old Colfs, Barking and Camberley twice, 36-12, 49-13,48-5 and 50-0, showed that, on the dry grounds, Hav were capable of powerful and pacy rugby, but then winter and the attritional nature of National League rugby set in.

A massive injury list, and numerous critical narrow home defeats followed; 9-13 to Redruth, 19-21 to Basingstoke and 22-23 Tabard, and yet the side was always competitive, drawing 22 all at Blackheath, and completing the double at Old Colfs.

Seemingly adrift with 5 games remaining, the dry grounds returned and with the addition of the talismanic former London Irish fly half Owen Cobbe, so did the performances.

Hav agonisingly lost twice in injury time to play off winners Lydney, before smashing Tabard 42-19, Weston 67-7, and county rivals Basingstoke 51-15, but with Old Colfs surprisingly defeating Blackheath on the final day, they were still left second from bottom.

And so to the final twist, a Lydney play-off victory, and the final Div 2 relegation spot going to Nottingham or Wharfedale and they would be safe. Lydney obliged, but a late penalty by Nottingham, and a late defeat by Launceston condemned the latter, and Hav were down.

We finished 2nd highest try scorers, 3rd highest points scorers, and 6th meanest defence, but the stark reality is that you get two points for winning and we did not win enough.

Joe Duffett led the side well, and Jon Barfoot worked tirelessly up front, whilst out back, Sid Claffey was as prolific as ever. Anton Petzer with 13 tries, Zimbabwean Wes Robertson with 11, and Neil McGovern with 10 all finished high in the scoring charts.

The Hooks Lane squad know, however, that feeling sorry for themselves is not an option, and they must strive to return and fight another national league day.

Results/Next Fixtures