Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club kept its hopes of a runners-up finish alive with a 40-12 win at home to Sittingbourne.
In Saturday’s windy, wintry conditions they played with some style and aggression to secure the vital four-try bonus point by half time, but then in the final 10 minutes allowed a well-beaten side to end on a high with a well-deserved try.
Although Sittingbourne’s scramble defence was strong all day, a strong run by Bruce Steadman led to a dynamic ruck and the first score, Anthony Roche finishing off, Tom Waring converting, 7-0.
A catch and drive set up slick backs’ handling to send Calvin Crosby-Clarke over for the second converted try. Another assured Jimmy Adams catch and forwards’ pick and drive saw Waring in for the touchdown, which he converted, 21-0.
Sittingbourne hit back with an unconverted try from a five-metre lineout, 21-5. Excellent handling by forwards and backs, and Eliot Parry ran in the fourth, bonus point, try, unconverted, 26-5.
In the second half a short lineout throw to Roche saw Steve McManus charge to the line, Piers Claughton and Crosby-Clarke showing fine hands to put Waring over for a converted try, 33-7. More spot-on handling gave Waring his hat-trick, converted, 40-7. Sittingbourne’s big forwards rumbled over for a consolation try.
Elsewhere, Rye Rugby Club lost 38-5 at home to runaway Sussex One leaders Pulborough, who have won all 20 of their league fixtures so far. Rye are ninth in the 12-team division with the season approaching its climax.
See Friday’s Observers for full reports on both matches.