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After a heartbreaking extra time defeat to Basingstoke by just two points last season, it was Havant's turn to break some hearts in this season's Gales HSB Hampshire Cup Final when they beat Gosport & Fareham 13-15 at Gosport Park on Saturday (25th April) writes Brian Seeney.

 

Trailing 13-5 at half-time, within three minutes of the restart, Havant were within a point when a try by full back Ed Wilkes was converted off the upright by number nine Jake Reynolds.

 

Gosport & Fareham then had two disallowed tries in the 51st and 81st minutes but Havant squeezed home with the winning penalty struck by Reynolds in the 66th minute.

 

Full back Tom Lewis had kicked Gosport & Fareham into a 6-0 lead (3 and 13 minutes) but within three minutes Havant's first foray into the home side's 22 brought then an unconverted try by wing Ben Brierley.

 

Havant had been down to 14 men for seven minutes following a yellow card for second row Ross Parkins when Gos second row Mark Pollard forced his way over for the game's second try in the 41st minute which wing Lewis turned into a 13-5 half-time lead.

 

It means Havant are the undisputed top Hampshire County club.

 

"It couldn't have been any tighter from my point of view - it was never ever going to be anything else," said a delighted Havant Head Coach Will Knight.

 

"It has never been any different against Gosport. It was immensely tight, both teams were totally committed and I'm sure for a neutral it was a great game of rugby but a little bit nail biting for us.

 

"I thought we played the better rugby. I thought it was always going to be difficult but when we did get a bit of possession we used it well.

 

"The fact that it was as tight as it was is probably no surprise to anybody involved.

 

 HavCup1

Victorious Havant (above). Photo: Roger Smith.

 

"In many ways it was a fantastic advert for Hampshire rugby because it was a really good game of rugby that everybody can walk away from and say that was full blooded and proper game of rugby.

 

"As a group of players we sat down and set our goals for the season and we looked for two things. One was a top six finish in our league (London 1 South) and we just missed out on that by a point but the second thing was to regain the Hampshire Cup.

 

"These were the players' personal targets and it is very good that they've pretty much delivered on them."I am very proud of them.

 

"Eighty per cent of the players came though our academy and that's how we are rebuilding so I'm very pleased they enjoyed this success.

 

"It is great to get the win and nice to win something."

 

Gosport & Fareham Head Coach Neil McRoberts said: "There is no way you can possibly hide how disappointed we are. The guys are gutted and I'm gutted for them and also for the club as well.

 

"We produced a performance that was full of heart and determination and good rugby.

 

"Ultimately that adds to the disappointment because that was a game that was there for us to win.

 

"On balance of territory and possession we probably edged it and that's not taking anything away from Havant because what I think they did really well was that they kept themselves in it and that's ultimately why they won the game.

 

"We had more than enough opportunities to win that game and enough opportunities not to be caught in a nip and tuck game which was what we ended up being in.

 

"It was talked about beforehand how it was going to be a cracking final and a big day for two very big clubs - the biggest in the county at the moment - and it lived up to that."

 

"The 15-13 scoreline probably doesn't do the game justice. It was open and there was some really flowing rugby played by both teams.

 

"It was fantastic spectacle of rugby and I think both clubs should be hugely pleased with the day. Yes I am gutted we didn't win it but I think everyone should be proud of their respective teams."

 

The loss was lessened because the John Collins Cup Final preceded the Gos v Havant game when Gosport & Fareham's 2nd XV beat Andover 35-7.

 

A try apiece by Matt Selstrom, Tom Whyld, Jack Easterbrook and Alex Duncombe who also kicked three penalties and conversions - one penalty from 50 metres - gave Gos 2s a glorious win.

 

 

Above: Hampshire RFU President Ian Kerr presents the Cup to Steve Cruddas. Below Cup winners Gosport & Fareham 2nd XV. Photos: Roger Smith.

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