H&B turn over league leaders

Hastings & Bexhill get within yards of the Park House line on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead
Hastings & Bexhill get within yards of the Park House line on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead
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Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club preserved its unbeaten home record with a 15-6 win over Kent One leaders Park House on Saturday.

Although Park were accomplished and motivated, competing cleverly at the breakdown, dominating the lineout, H&B’s hard-working pack gave away very little, while the hosts’ fierce backline defence repeatedly drove Park’s attacks backwards and dispossessed them.

Park’s defence was equally aggressive, but the home side’s more accomplished handling and offloading retained possession and gave them an edge despite a sopping wet surface and wind howling diagonally across the pitch.

A Tom Waring break triggered the first score. The ball was moved well through hands, and from the breakdown Chris Stern broke for the line for 5-0.

Park caught their own restart, but Piers Claughton won a turnover in the tackle, Ben Campbell and Calvin Crosby-Clarke attacked, and H&B earned a penalty, Waring converting, 8-0. Park got on the scoreboard with a penalty.

With the wind behind them in the second half, Park may have felt scoring would be easier; if so, they had underestimated H&B’s adept management of tricky handling conditions.

Park kicked a second penalty, but this spurred H&B into a dynamic attack, starting with a fine break by Waring from his 22. The Claughton brothers interpassed then mauled the ball 25 metres. Jason Holewell carried strongly to the line, Mark Piotrowski finishing off the move, Waring converting, 15-6.

For the last quarter, H&B played with 14 men: first John Hanagarth carded then - as he returned - Roche going off. As so often, H&B rose to this challenge and upped their intensity; the scrum coped brilliantly with being a man short, not once being turned over. Park got close to the line, but H&B’s defence was implacable.

See Friday’s Observers for a full report and more pictures.