Prior to Saturday’s match, Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club head coach Kevin Smith had been quoted as saying he wanted “a performance” from the team. He got it!
Second-bottom H&B gave third-placed opposition a real scare in their latest London Three South East fixture before eventually having to settle for a losing bonus point from a 21-15 defeat.
With standing water on the pitch this was never going to be a game for purists, but it was certainly an entertaining one. Despite cold hands and a slippery ball, both teams played attacking rugby.
The visitors made most of the early running, but it was H&B who opened the scoring. H&B kicked a penalty to the five-metre line, and from the resulting lineout and maul, Mark Piotrowski went over for an unconverted try.
Bromley came back strongly. After H&B were penalised at a scrum, Bromley took a quick penalty and scored a converted try to take a 7-5 lead.
From the restart H&B forced a scrum on the 10-metre line. A pick up and drive was foiled by a dropped ball and Bromley cleared.
The visitors might have survived on that occasion, but soon afterwards a series of pick and goes from the H&B pack forced a penalty, which Tom Waring kicked to give the hosts an 8-7 advantage.
The visitors were using the attacking kick to good effect. A crossfield kick led to an H&B defender being forced into touch, and from the resulting lineout, a change of direction and missed tackle saw Bromley score a converted try under the posts for a 14-8 half time lead.
The rain had now stopped which allowed both sides to play more attacking rugby with ball in hand.
Most of the second half action took place in the middle part of the pitch until a series of forward drives took H&B close to the line and Jacob McDonough broke through the Bromley defence to score near the posts. Waring kicked the conversion to give the home side a 15-14 lead.
A surprise first home win of the season looked increasingly possible against a Bromley side which beat H&B 55-5 in the reverse fixture.
The match was near the end when Bromley grabbed the winning try. A succession of ruck and mauls ended with Bromley picking the ball from the ruck and running unopposed to the line. The conversion was successful.
This was a gutsy performance by H&B, and despite the loss, the mood after the game was upbeat as the players had played well as a team and realised they are still in with a chance of staying up if they can replicate that form in the games to come.
H&B: Roche, Foord-Paton, McDonough, Adams, Piotrowski, R. McManus, S. McManus, A. Waring, White, Nichols, Sills, Parry, T. Waring, Campbell, Haddock. Replacements: Wilkinson, Sandeman, Foster.