H&B remember young Harley in latest victory

Hastings & Bexhill captain Jimmy Adams carries the ball into the contact area against King's College Hospital. Picture courtesy Karen Walker
Hastings & Bexhill captain Jimmy Adams carries the ball into the contact area against King's College Hospital. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

The overriding strength of a rugby club like Hastings & Bexhill RFC is the families and people that make up its membership.

These members suffered a huge blow on Friday when the news came through that Harley Simpson, a member of the club's under-12 squad, had died as a result of the injuries sustained in a road traffic collision on October 22.

Hastings & Bexhill in possession against King's College Hospital. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

Hastings & Bexhill in possession against King's College Hospital. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

As the first team headed to King's College Hospital on Saturday, club president Roy Wake and chairman Jeremy Hohenkerk joined the players of both sides for a minute's silence in his memory before kick-off.

The club’s other adult teams did the same in their games, as did Harley’s team- mates, and the other junior and mini teams at their training session on Sunday.

The H&B first XV contained 11 players who started in the club's mini and junior sides. Among the travelling supporters were people who have been members of the club for more than 50 years, so tragedies of this type are felt throughout the whole club.

H&B head coach Chris Brooks said: "We're a community club and when you lose a member, it does affect the entire membership of the club. It was very, very sad news and it got everyone.

H&B go on the attack with a scrum close to the King's College Hospital line. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

H&B go on the attack with a scrum close to the King's College Hospital line. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

"All three of our (adult) teams, plus our oppositions, had a minute's silence before the game and there's a feeling in the club that we want to do a lot more to help the family."

As for the game itself, Bruce Steadman returned after injury at scrum-half and Chris Stern at wing forward for his first full game in over a month as table-topping H&B made it eight Kent One wins out of eight with a 22-10 victory.

H&B played with great spirit and were soon in the lead. Paul Sandeman kicked a long penalty to touch for a five-metre lineout and hooker Joe Umpleby gathered the ball from the ensuing maul to crash over the line for a well-worked try.

Several very good positional kicks from Sandeman set up attacking lineouts and the H&B pack was winning plenty of possession to enable the backs to run their moves.

H&B on the defensive during their 22-10 victory on Saturday. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

H&B on the defensive during their 22-10 victory on Saturday. Picture courtesy Karen Walker

Tom Waring scored the second try of the day from such a move, bursting through the home defence to touch down out on the left wing.

Dominic Sewell, who had been playing really well in the second row, had to leave the pitch with an injury to his shoulder and neck and was replaced by Frazer McManus.

This was not the end of H&B's injury worries. Tim Sills made a lightning 40-metre break, but the crashing tackle that stopped him left the winger with a damaged foot that looks as if it will take several weeks to recover. He was replaced by Ben Campbell.

Harry Walker increased the lead with a good try. He collected the ball in a fine backs' move and twisted past two defenders to score near the posts for Waring to convert.

Another flying break from Walker of more than 50 metres set the ball for the H&B forwards. They passed the ball out to Campbell, who ran in the bonus point fourth try from 10 metres.

King's College had some very good players, especially the outside centre, and one of his huge clearances led to the home team scoring a good try to make the half time score 5-22.

The second half was a long, tortuous affair featuring numerous stoppages for injury and lectures on points of law from the referee to both sides.

King's reduced their deficit with an opportunistic try from a quick throw in, but that was the only noteworthy action of a half that ended in almost darkness nearly two hours after the game kicked-off.

There is no such thing as a bad win so H&B can again feel happy with the result.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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