Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club produced a dramatic final day turnaround to book its place in a promotion play-off.
H&B won 38-17 at home to Old Gravesendians on Saturday, while rivals Cranbrook - who began the day four points ahead of them in the battle for the Kent One runners-up spot - were edged out 20-18 away to champions Park House.
That left the two clubs level on 78 points, but H&B finished second on a tie-breaking win-differential. H&B will face Crawley - the equivalent finishers in Sussex One - in a play-off on Saturday April 26 with the winners progressing to London Three South East next season.
A scrum five marched OGs backwards for Mark Piotrowski to touch down, Tom Waring converting, 7-0. OGs responded with a penalty, 7-3. From a lineout drive, a subsequent scrum powered OGs over the line, Piotrowski touching down, Waring converting, 14-3.
One of Waring’s deceptive breaks through traffic, and a pass out of the tackle to Piers Claughton, saw the latter hand off the full-back for a third try, converted by Waring, 21-3.
A penalty moved quickly wide through hands saw Bruce Steadman wriggle over for the fourth try, unconverted, 26-3. Jason Holewell crossed the line just before the break, for a 31-3 half time lead.
In the second half H&B seemed to lose focus and OGs, cross and demoralised throughout the first half, were allowed back into the contest. For most of the half the result was an untidy, niggly impasse, until OGs ran in a try from halfway, followed almost at once by a second, 31-17.
With minutes left, H&B woke up to their now-sodden bonfire. Piers Claughton ran the ball to the five-metre line, and from a penalty Jimmy Adams drove over, Waring converting for the final say, 38-17.
Kent One final standings (all played 22 matches): 1 Park House 90pts, 2 HASTINGS & BEXHILL 78, 3 Cranbrook 78, 4 Old Williamsonians 68, 5 Vigo 65, 6 Southwark Lancers 48, 7 HSBC 46, 8 King’s College Hospital 45, 9 Old Gravesendians 40, 10 Sittingbourne 29, 11 Foots Cray 21, 12 Shooters Hill 18.
Rye Rugby Club, meanwhile, finished the Sussex One campaign with back-to-back victories. Saturday’s 31-17 success at home to Crowborough II meant the New Roaders ended up in seventh place.
See Friday’s Observers for full reports and reaction.