Havant too hot to handle despite resolute Combe defence
By Mark Ley
Havant RFC 28 - 7 Westcombe Park RFC
Conditions were perfect for a game of open, free-flowing rugby - bright spring sunshine, clear blue skies, not a hint of a breeze and a dry artificial surface. Quite surprising then that the game was characterised by innumerable handling errors, knocks-ons and dropped passes. So although Havant had the upper hand for most of the match, they couldn’t press home their advantage due to a lack of precision and they squandered at least half a dozen gilt edged opportunities to score.
Havant have clearly developed a style of rugby well suited to the artificial pitch, attacking with pace and determination at every opportunity This combined with physicality in the tackle and a dominant scrum had Combe pinned back for long periods with only scraps to live off. Havant attacked wide at every opportunity but their ace card was to target the fringes of the scrum where they had frequent success in breaking the Combe line.
The pressure quickly told and Combe were penalised at a ruck for hands in and Joel Knight slotted the penalty – 3-0 with barely 5 mins on the clock.
From the re-start Havant continued to press and following a half break made ground up the middle. A sniping run to the Combe line was initially repulsed but the loose ball was picked up by Joe Davis to score – 8-0 after 12 mins.
Although mostly on the back foot and starved of ball, Combe did make occasional incursions into the Havant half but did not really look like scoring. From one such sortie, Combe knocked on in the Havant 22. From the resulting scrum the Havant winger broke wide and went for the line only to be dragged down short but was able to offload to Richie Janes to score. Joel Knight slotted the conversion – 15-0 after just 20 mins.
Although Havant continued to have the upper hand their own errors plus solid Combe defence prevented any further scoring with the teams turning round at Havant 15 Combe 0.
The second half was a re-run of the first with Havant having much the better of possession and territory but failing to capitalise due to their own basic mistakes.
A penalty for offside after 55 mins by Joel Knight increased Havant’s lead to 18-0. However, Combe were digging in and got their just reward when Matt Harrison broke through the centre to score out wide. He also slotted the conversion – 18-7 on the hour.
Havant came back strongly and after a period of pressure in the Combe 22 won a line out and broke the gain line. The ball was taken on by the forwards and an inside pass saw Jake Hewitt over the whitewash – 23-7 after 70 mins.
To their credit Combe heads did not drop and there followed a period of Combe possession and pressure on the Havant line, but despite a gallant effort they could not score.
Havant had the final say with the try of the match. From a scrum in their own 22, the ball was shipped to Scott Morris who first ran diagonally left and then diagonally right to elude and outpace the entire Combe defence to score a wonderful solo try.
Combe were up against it from the start but stuck at their task manfully. David Pohlen shone at No 8 behind a retreating pack, made yards running out of defence and put in a number of important tackles.
The Final Score was Havant 28 Combe 7.
Next Saturday 6th April we entertain Dartfordians preceded by the “Old Crocks” Supporters Lunch. Frazer and Shaun have organised another all day “Player’s Re-union”, so come along and enjoy the company of past Combe legends.
Team: J. Simmons, J. Dehaarte, T.Simmons, N. Pass, J. Cox, G. Milligan, J.Lindfield, D. Pohlen, B. Smith, M. Harrison, B. Saffery, S. Atiola, B. Walters, R. Fuller, O. Church-Mills. Subs: D. Eames, J. Dennett, S. Beckett.
Reporter: Franklin Pastry