Cobham travelled south having won their last eight games and with Havant having won their last six everyone was expecting to see a very competitive game.... and that is exactly what the supporters got.
In their last league match Havant had inflicted only the second defeat of the season against Medway and were still in the hunt for promotion. As Havant took to the field they were cheered on by their supporters with old style rattles and as the game unfolded in the first ten minutes Cobham certainly looked to have been 'rattled'.
Within two minutes a break by back row Goldring set up a backline move to see full back Harry Carr cross the line 5-0.
Desperate to get themselves into the match Cobham then gave away two penalties which Havant fly half Joel Knight slotted over and Cobham found themselves 11-0 down in the first eleven minutes.
Without any possession and cohesion Cobham looked out of sorts but the skills that have brought them those eight wins now shone through as Patrick Disley May set the ball in train for it to flow through the back line to winger Max MacDonald who outstripped the defence 11-5. Tom Farrelly kicked the first of many excellent conversions from wide out to close the gap 11-7.
Soon after Havant lost their back row Goldring to an infringement handing the advantage to Cobham and they took full advantage of the extra man
Luke Flower's cross kick to the corner was picked up by James Clements but in attempting to effect the tackle centre Scott Morris was adjudged to have tackled him high leaving the referee to run under the posts to award a penalty try. Havant then lost their second player within five minutes to go down to thirteen players.-By a strange quirk of fate Cobham's score was emulated about three hours later in Paris when France were awarded a virtually identical penalty try against England. 11-14.
Havant now displayed great composure as they took the game to Cobham's half and turned pressure into points from full back Harry Carr converted by Knight 18-14 and the fly half extended that lead with a well taken penalty just before the half time whistle 21-14.
Cobham knew they would need to get the next score and they achieved that through a fluid back line move that saw Craig Bonnar setting up winger James Clements to score in the corner . Farelly then kicked a well crafted conversion from far out to tie the score at 21-21
As befits the determination of both sides Havant came immediately back as their pack set up a back line move for their winger Brierley to go over in the corner 26-21.
This only spurred Cobham on to hit back with a well executed try in the corner by MacDonald to tie the score again with the all important bonus point try before Farelly potted over the conversion for Cobham . 26-28.
Having lost the lead so many times Havant could have capitulated but with that promotion still in their sights their centre Scott Morris sprinted under the post. With the conversion added Havant were back in front 33-28.
Farrelly narrowed the lead again with a penalty 33-31 but that was to be Cobham's last hurrah as Knight broke free to score under the posts converting his own try 40-31 and then added a penalty before the final whistle. 43-31.
Havant Coach Will Knight, "Cobham were definitely one of the best teams we have played. The kept coming and it is easy to see why they were on an eight match winning run."
Director of Rugby Steve Pope said '' Against a good Havant side ... playing in front of a very supportive and vociferous home crowd, we not only gave them a soft head start, but we let them off of the hook.. time and time again and didn't close the game out.
Our own in-ability to control the key moments of the game. Followed by conceding points with the 2 man advantage we had... is beyond me...We played very little rugby in the first half yet were still in the game.
On a number of occasions we could have and should have put the game out of sight, in the second half and to the boys credit we scored some lovely tries. Only showing brief glimpses of the top side these boys are when they play.
Not quite sure how to hide my frustrations... to gift a side like Havant that lead in the first quarter off the match, then expect to come away with anything is just ... ridiculous
My frustrations are born out of our own ...continuing poor attendance at training and lack of seeming want from a very talented group of players. Whom I do believe could win this league if they really applied themselves.
Some big games still to come for us.. I hope we can put in a 80 minute team performance together before the end of this season...because if we do... someone is in for a very tough afternoon. We were in small patches amazing today... our back 3 looked electric ... Top debut from Harry Kean in midfield and against a big physical side we stood toe to toe...
But we are so much better than we are currently showing
Lots to work on ! .... Hopefully guys will see and feel this after today ?
1stxv debut for Centre Harry Kean
1st Xv Squad
1 Ben Joyce
2 Andrew Murphy
3 Sam Matcham
4 Adrian Van Der Ploeg(C)
5 Joe Goddard
6 Ali Porter
7 Oli Fox
8 Jake McQuade
9 Patrick Disley-May
10 Luke Flower
11 Max MacDonald
12 Harry Kean
13 Tom Farrelly
14 James Clements
15 Craig Bonnar
16 Josh Brown
17 Doug Rodman
18 Miles Fletcher
No 14 Jamie Clements x 1
No 11 Max MacDonald x 2
No 13 Tom Farrelly x 4 Conversions