H&B edged out in top-of-the-table clash

Ben Campbell goes over for a try during Hastings & Bexhill's 13-12 defeat away to Old Williamsonians. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

Ben Campbell goes over for a try during Hastings & Bexhill's 13-12 defeat away to Old Williamsonians. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

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Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club suffered its first league defeat of the season by a solitary point against one of its title rivals.

H&B came agonisingly close to a 10th Kent One win out of 10, but a last gasp long range penalty was narrowly off target and they had to make do with a losing bonus point from a 13-12 defeat away to Old Williamsonians on Saturday.

This game was always going to be difficult. Williamsonians beat H&B home and away last season, and fielded a big, strong and very vocal team which is unbeaten at home this season.

The opening quarter-of-an-hour was very hard-fought and play was even, but it was the visitors who drew first blood.

Harry Walker gathered the ball inside his own half and made a fantastic surging break. As he approached the home defence, he drew his man and made an excellent pass to put winger Ben Campbell in for his first try of the day. Bruce Steadman converted to give H&B a 7-0 lead.

The Williamsonians pack was playing well, though, and its continuous pressure on the visitors' defence resulted in a try on the wing, which was excellently converted to make it 7-7 at half time.

Kit Claughton on the charge for Hastings & Bexhill. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

Kit Claughton on the charge for Hastings & Bexhill. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

The second half continued in much the same vein, with neither side in the ascendancy, although there were some crunching tackles from both.

Williamsonians took a 10-7 lead with a penalty awarded for handling the ball on the ground, but H&B came back with a second try from Campbell. The winger was fed the ball from a good backs' move and raced through the gap to score in the corner, giving H&B a 12-10 advantage.

After Jacob McDonagh replaced Tom Vincent at prop, the referee made a harsh decision to award Williamsonians a penalty in front of the posts for offside. The subsequent kick put them ahead for the second time at 13-12.

With only seconds to go, H&B were awarded a penalty more than 40 metres out. Tom Waring made a great attempt, but the ball passed narrowly wide of the posts.

H&B on the attack during their first defeat of the season. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

H&B on the attack during their first defeat of the season. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

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