Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club pulled off its third consecutive victory on Saturday.
H&B recovered from conceding a try right at the start to secure a 28-12 win in a clash between the teams who started the day lying second and third in the early Kent One table.
H&B gifted Vigo a try in the opening seconds. After the visitors kicked-off, their large but very mobile forwards won the ball and fed it to winger Liam Byrne-Stevens, who rounded the H&B defence to touch down in the corner.
Thankfully for the home supporters, many of whom had enjoyed lunch with club president Roy Wake in the clubhouse, this was a wake-up call to which the players responded well.
Almost immediately Chas Ackerley scored a try under the posts which was converted by Harry Foster. H&B continued to dominate the opening minutes and mounted attack after attack. The forwards were well led by the ever-impressive Jimmy Adams, who scored a try which Foster converted.
Another try under the posts from Foster following an incisive run by Tim Sills put H&B into a 21-5 lead after only 15 minutes of attacking and flowing rugby from the home team.
Vigo continued to work hard in the loose and competed for every ball. Byrne-Stevens kicked on from a dropped H&B pass and won the ensuing chase to score his second try.
H&B prop Anthony Roche was yellow carded for an infringement in the lineout. The reorganisation of the front row meant Jacob McDonough came on and Alex Waring had to make way for the remaining minutes of the first half, but H&B turned round with a 21-12 lead.
The second half saw H&B camped in Vigo territory. H&B coach Chris Brooks used his replacements well, with Mark Piotrowski and John Hanagarth providing fresh legs to the forwards.
Vigo continued to defend resolutely, but were assisted by some poor H&B handling at vital moments and the continuous pressure could not be turned into points.
It was the 72nd minute before Vigo managed to break into H&B’s 22. The H&B defence held firm, though, and another attack was mounted, although unfortunately this led to an injury for hooker Joe Umpleby, who had played well throughout the game.
At last H&B’s pressure paid off and Sills came in off the wing to score a good try for the four-try bonus point. Foster added the conversion.
Brooks felt that Sills was particularly impressive on the wing, while the back row carried very well, especially Ken West at number eight. The returning Elliot Parry provided stability at the back of the scrum and the service to the backs was good.
Standings (all played four matches): 1 Sheppey 19pts, 2 HASTINGS & BEXHILL 16, 3 Beccehamian 16, 4 Old Williamsonians 15, 5 Lordswood 14, 6 Southwark Lancers 13, 7 Vigo 11, 8 King’s College Hospital 8, 9 HSBC 5, 10 Brockleians 2, 11 Old Gravesendians 0, 12 New Ash Green 0.
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