Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club rounded-off its title-winning campaign in fitting fashion with a victory on Saturday.
H&B completed their Kent One programme with a come-from-behind 28-20 success away to fourth-placed HSBC to finish 10 points clear of runners-up Old Williamsonians.
The afternoon started with skipper Jimmy Adams being presented with the Kent One champions’ shield by Mike Cordell, a member of the RFU council and secretary of Kent RFU.
H&B welcomed back five of the mainstays of the season’s success and began the contest by matching strong opposition in every part of the game.
After 15 minutes of a fierce, but even tussle, HSBC took the lead with a well-worked try from their penetrating number 12. The hosts then increased their advantage with a well-taken penalty and went further ahead with an opportunistic try from an interception on the H&B 22-metre line.
H&B were 15-0 down and number eight Sam Haslam had to leave the field with a calf injury, to be replaced by Jacob McDonough.
Although behind, H&B were not beaten. Full-back Harry Walker fielded a long clearance and ran straight at the home defence, bursting through their centres and feeding veteran prop Steve McManus to cross the line under the posts. Bruce Steadman converted to make the half time score 15-7.
The second half started with H&B playing the rugby that has been the keynote of the season. They were tackling well, winning every ball and setting up some great backs’ moves.
Ben Campbell was on the end of an excellent phase of handling and made more than 20 metres before passing inside to put McManus away for his second try of the day. Steadman converted to put H&B within one point.
Fit-again Eliot Parry then gave H&B the lead with a well-worked try. Mark Piotrowski took the ball from a ruck and broke through the home defence before passing to McManus, who made more ground before releasing the scrum-half to score under the posts. Steadman duly converted.
Campbell rounded-off an excellent individual performance with the bonus point fourth try. Swift handling from McDonough put Adam Baker into space. He fended off his man and gave a fine pass to put the winger away.
Steadman’s improved place kicking has been a feature of the season and he increased his tally with another well-struck attempt to put H&B 13 points clear.
HSBC finished the game with a flourish; a well-executed penalty move from 20 metres out put their flying winger away into the corner for an unconverted try.
H&B had won another tough game, however, having fought hard to come from behind and shown excellent spirit and skill to beat very worthy opponents.
H&B: Roche, Umpleby, S. McManus, Adams (c), Piotrowski, F. McManus (James 60), Stern, Haslam (McDonough 25), Parry, Steadman, Campbell, Claughton (Foord 60), Baker, Stinson, Walker.
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!