Dover 21 – 21 Havant

Havant made the long trip to Dover hoping to complete the double over the Kent side. As it turned out the long trip was very, very long. A puncture on the coach just outside Guilford meant a change of coach and the kick off delayed to 4pm. Havant arrived at the ground at 3.30 so preparation was not ideal.

It seemed that Havant were struggling to get the journey out of their system because it was the home side that made the more positive start and had scored with a penalty before a fine break by their hooker was carried on by the backs for a good opening try.

For much of the first period Havant were struggling to get into the game, too many errors and a lack of energy by the pack in offering themselves as runners meant that it was difficult to find any space.

Havant’s first score was a Joel Knight penalty in the 28th minute and there was small sense that Havant were starting to wake up.

With a better platform to work with Grant Morris and Dave Sweeney were able to start using their forwards to draw in the Dover defence. Havant had more ball to play with and when the ball went wide in the 36th minute Joel Knight drew in a number of defenders and then slipped the ball to Ben Brierley who powered his way upfield beating the cover defence for a very well taken score.

HT 10-8

The second half started well for Havant as Skipper Joel Knight found a gap in the home defence and sprinted away to score under the posts adding the conversion to his own try to put the visitors in front for the first time. Grant Morris was kicking well from the base of the rucks and keeping the home side pegged back.

Another two penalties to Havant extended the lead and the men from Hooks Lane looked to have complete control of the game going into the last quarter. Havant were completely dominating the scrum and Dover had one player sent to the bin for constant infringements. When their nine was also yellow carded for a punch it appeared the game was up.

But this seemed to galvanize the men from Kent as they started to play the best rugby the had done all day. They were throwing every ball they could wide and caused all sorts of problems for the Havant defence. Havant concerned two penalties and now it was the home side who could sense an unlikely comeback victory. Havant were guilty of not looking after the ball and playing far too much rugby deep in their own half.

Straight from the restart after Dover’s last penalty they threw the ball wide and as the Havant defence lost its shape they capitalized with an easy score in the left corner. The kick proved too difficult for their replacement kicker and the score stood at 21-21 with 6 minutes to play.

Havant came back hard and did have one last chance to snatch the game with a penalty but this fell short and both teams had to settle for the draw.

Havant always knew that the trip to Kent would be a tough one but will feel that having forced their way back into the game this was on they should have closed out. They had the upper hand in the tight all afternoon but failed to use this platform as effectively as they could have. In the loose too many players were trying to force the game and this meant that the turnover count against them was too high.

Credit must go to Dover who are always a tough nut to crack, and who will be pleased with the way they pulled themselves back into the game. For Havant, in the end the 2 points accrued from the draw was enough to ensure safety in this league and to move them one place up the table but this was little consolation for a game they felt was there for the taking.