Power, Pace and Precision as Havant blow away Basingstoke.
The men from Hooks Lane enjoyed a good day at the office as they put their north Hampshire rivals to the sword.
The Basingstoke coach had expected Havant to prove stubborn and to throw the kitchen sink at his side. In the end Havant proved a little more than stubborn and threw the kitchen sink, the fridge and the cooker at their local rivals.
Havant have been building in confidence this year and have been able to show a consistency in their performances that is a foundation for any league success. But local derbies are different. Havant have had to play second fiddle to the men from Down Grange for a few seasons and that hurt and they have been desperate to take back the bragging rights and did that in some style today.
The game started with Havant demonstrating to Basingstoke what they could look forward to for the rest of the afternoon. In the first scrum Havant pushed Basingstoke off their own ball to assert their ascendancy at set piece.
The home side’s defence was smothering any opportunity that Basingstoke got and the intensity in the tackle rocked the visitors back at every opportunity.
Havant opened the scoring after a wonderful break by Pete Living on the wing, the ball had been moved quickly along the line after the forwards had turned over Basingstoke ball at the scrum. Living threw a lovely blind pass over his shoulder to Skipper Joel Knight who ran in from the 22 to the delight of the large crowd. Knight added the extras.
The home side went over again within 10 minutes as Great interplay found centre Ben Brierley who picked out Full Back Pat Gains who timed his run beautifully to claim his first try in a Havant shirt.
Basingstoke knocked over a penalty before Flanker Steve Cruddas, who had lead the team out in recognition of his 200th league game, was Yellow carded for a late tackle. Havant weathered the storm and avoided conceding any points in the 10 minutes Cruddas was in the bin. It was, in fact, the home side that scored next with Ed Wilkes, playing his first game this season, who powered over in the corner as the ball was shifted from the base of the scrum by Dan Munden to Jake Reynolds who found his winger. Knight made sure of the conversion and it looked as if Basingstoke might roll over.
But this is not a poor Basingstoke side and with ex-Havant favourite Gav Hart leading them they were never going to go without a fight. After pressing hard with some good driving play they found space at the edge of a ruck on the 5m line and drove over for their first try of the game.
Havant hit back again on the stroke of half-time. Dan Munden, who possesses real pace at No8, charged down a kick on halfway and out sprinted the Basingstoke winger to score an excellent solo try to secure the try bonus point. Knight hit the conversion to take Havant in at the break leading 31-8.
Stoke came out hard in the second period and scored early as their fullback found space in the Havant defence. Encouraged by the early score he visitors threw everything they had at the Hooks Lane squad but the Havant defence was magnificent. There seemed to be no way through and despite long spells on their own line Havant showed the appetite for the tackle that has served them so well this year.
Having lifted the siege Havant flooded forward and the hyper critical would say that they actually had a number of scoring opportunities that they didn’t execute. The pack were now dominating most of the contact area. With backs and forwards linking well it seemed only a matter of time before the next try came. It was Man of the Match Ben Brierley that got it. Knight gathered a poor Basingstoke pass and and Ed Wilkes switched with the centre to bring the play back infield, Brierley hit a hard line off his shoulder and a typically powerful run saw the big centre sprint away and seal the win for the home team.
Basingstoke scored a consolation try late on but it was Havant’s day. They were better in almost every department than their visitors from North Hampshire and there was a real intensity in their play.
The coaching team were delighted with the progress evident from the performance. Head Coach Will Knight felt his side were good value for the win.
“I can’t praise the boys enough – everything about the way they approached the game was spot on. The pack were magnificent. There is a real sense that we are beginning to recognise that we have the ability to punish teams at the set piece – their front row will certainly know they have been in a game today.”
“ The appetite across the squad to make an impact is brilliant, their work rate in attack and defence is fantastic – there are a lot of very battered but happy lads in the changing room.. This is a significant moment for us in the development of this group of players. We have been under the cosh a bit from Basingstoke for the last few years and to get the win today is great for the club.”
“Next week we travel to Dover and getting a win there will be a tough ask, but if we play like we did today I have every confidence.”