Havant 57 – 17 Haywards Heath

Havant came into this game looking to consolidate their league position against a side that have been tough opponents in each of their meetings over the last two seasons. With their sponsors present and having enjoyed a good lunch the Hooks Lane outfit were keen to put on a good showing.

But it was Havant that made a slow start and with Heath making most of the running, their backs and forwards combining well it was no surprise that the visitors were the first to score. Havant turned ball over and the Heath backs threw the ball wide for a well taken score wide on the right.

Havant scored next with a well taken Joel Knight effort, the ball being gathered from a loose kick and run back by winger Josh Blackburn who found his brother Loz with a long pass he held the defence and put Knight into space with the centre finishing well and with the conversion added the Home side were in front.

The game was still quite even at this stage with the visitors enjoying plenty of territory and possession, it seemed the momentum may have swung in Havant’s direction when Heath lost a player to the sinbin for an infringement at the ruck, but a few minutes later it was Havant that were on the wrong side of the referee as Nick Goodger was sent to the bin for a similar offence.

Heath kicked to touch and from the lineout, play swept right and their right wing scrambled over. Havant were in more trouble as they lost Bruce Neal to the sinbin for an offside at the ruck and the home side were reduced to thirteen just as the visitors were restored to full strength. It seemed the frustration of their stuttering performance was somehow focused by the second card and when Joel Knight tapped a penalty on his own 22 and set off on a belligerent run upfield there was a perceivable change in Havant’s posture. The home skipper was brought down just inside the 5m line and great support work by Dave Sweeney to collect the pass out of the tackle put the flyhalf in under the posts.

Havant went in at half-time in the lead 14-10 but knowing that they needed to find another gear to shake off their dogged opponents.

But the relief was short-lived as Havant hit back straight away. Niall Copeland charged down a kick close to the Heath line and as he followed through the ball bounced kindly for him and he scored under the posts. Converted by Knight.

The home side’s pressure on the Heath line paid dividends minutes later as powerful prop Luke Marks barrelled his way over for another converted score.

Havant rounded off an excellent second half performance with another Josh Blackburn try this time the ball going through five sets of hands before finding Blackburn who finished powerfully for his second score of the game. With Knight completing his personal points score of 22 points as he knocked over the last conversion

The skipper was pleased with the response that his player’s made in the second half, “We struggled to find any rhythm in the first period and too many wrong options being taken meant that the game was fragmented. When we went in at half-time we were really quite lucky to be ahead.”

“The changing room in the interval was not for the faint-hearted and we were rightly given a few things to think about by the coaches”

“The response in the second half was just want we wanted to see and we showed what we are capable of. If we want to be contenders next season then we have to make sure we can find this intensity at all times.”

“Credit to Hayward Heath they never stopped playing. We will miss them from our league because they are a great club and definitely one of the most welcoming, I hope they can bounce straight back up.”