Great performance at Charlton Park gets Havant back to winning ways
In a feisty affair Havant kept thier cool to grab a bonus point win.
Havant travelled to Charlton Park looking to get back to winning ways. In a turbulent week where Havant lost 5 players from the team originally selected, including skipper Joel Knight, the Hooks Lane outfit took the field with a number of new combinations in place.
The changes did not seem to have affected the visitors as they got off to a fantastic start with a beautifully taken try from centre James Read. With barely 2 minutes on the clock Read cut back against the flow and found space between the Charlton Park defenders to score.
Park hit back with a penalty when the Havant backs strayed offside but the flow of the game was with the visitors. Havant continued to put the pressure on their London rivals and had the better of the early exchanges in a very physical battle up front. Park were struggling to find their target in the lineout and great work from the Havant jumpers put real pressure on the Park set piece.
In the scrums it was a much more even contest with Park’s powerful tight head putting pressure on the Havant front row but when Park were penalised at the break down Jake Reynolds knocked over a penalty to extend the Havant lead.
With both teams struggling to understand what the referee wanted at the scrum it was Havant’s loose head, Luke Marks, that finally fell foul of the ref, being sent to the sin bin for repeated offences.
This sparked a spell of Park pressure and they pushed Havant back deep into their own 22, the now trademark Havant defence held firm and through the intensity of the tackle forced a turnover. Jay Wilkes grabbed the ball and sprinted 70 metres up field only to be caught metres short by the Park cover defence. The winger offloaded to his supporting flanker Mike Brook for a fantastic length of the field score.
Half-time: Charlton Park 0 Havant 13.
Havant were forced to make a change at half-time as Richard Janes picked up a neck injury and Tim Miller took his place.
Havant were immediately on the offensive again putting the ball behind the Park line and chasing hard to apply pressure. Havant had a period of possession in the Park 22 which culminated in the ball being thrown wide and from the breakdown full back Pat Gains was driven over for his 2nd Try in Havant colours. James Read added the conversion.
Park hit back with a try of there own as their powerful forwards drove hard at the fringes and eventually powered over.
Havant quickly re-established a territorial advantage and from a maul on the 22m line skipper Steve Cruddas broke up the blindside to put Jake Reynolds in for Havant’s 4th and bonus point try to the delight of Havant’s large traveling support. Head Coach Will Knight was delighted with the result,
“It’s not been an easy week, we have had to make changes all the way up to Friday when we had players pull out. But this is the difference with the squad we have this season. We have good cover in all positions and although some players were playing in new positions and combinations it didn’t affect our ability to play the game plan.”
“It was a full on game of rugby, very physical, but we kept our heads and I think deserved the win.”
“I thought out defence again today was excellent and is becoming a very strong feature of what we do. Charlton Park are a powerful side and kept on coming but the boys put in a huge defensive shift and forced them to make mistakes.”
“The support today was amazing and always make themselves heard – Park have been great hosts and off the field are definitely one of the friendliest clubs we have been to.”
Next week Havant welcome Hampshire rivals Basingstoke in the county cup semi-final.