H&B target place in regional cup final

Joe Umpleby in possession for Hastings & Bexhill during their narrow quarter-final victory over Burgess Hill last month. Picture by Justin Lycett
Joe Umpleby in possession for Hastings & Bexhill during their narrow quarter-final victory over Burgess Hill last month. Picture by Justin Lycett

Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club is gunning for a place in the final of a regional knockout competition.

H&B will host Old Whitgiftians in the semi-finals of the London & SE Junior Vase tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off at Ark William Parker Academy is 2pm.

“It’s going to be an interesting afternoon,” said H&B head coach Chris Brooks. “If I had to prioritise, the league is our priority. But we targeted all the competitions that we’re playing in this year to go as far as we can.”

H&B are seven points clear at the top of Kent One with 16 wins out of 17, while Whitgiftians are second in Surrey One having won nine of their 15 league fixtures to date.

In the previous round, Whitgiftians were 37-13 winners at home to Hampshire One leaders New Milton and H&B needed a last gasp Chaz Ackerley try to edge out Sussex One side Burgess Hill.

“I’m expecting a tight one,” continued Brooks. “If they’re still in the competition at this level, they’ve got to be a strong side and Surrey is a strong county for rugby.

“They’ve got a big catchment area and I’m expecting them to be very strong. I’m expecting their pack to be bigger than ours, which is invariably the case, but in terms of their style of play, it’s a bit of an unknown.

“It will be a case of getting out there and doing what we do best. If it stays fairly dry and we’ve got a firm pitch, that plays to our strengths as well. We’ll have to see.”

The other semi-final, incidentally, will see Maldon entertain Royston. Maldon are fourth in Essex League 1B and Royston are fourth in Herts/Middlesex 1.

The eventual London & SE winners will go through to meet the winners of the regional rounds in the South West and ultimately clubs from across England en route to a final at Twickenham.

“There isn’t a person in the club who doesn’t want a day out at Twickenham, but we’ve got to be realistic about it,” added Brooks. “There are three supposedly very tough games between us and that.”

Brooks was anticipating a real selection headache this week, such is the level of competition for places at present.

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