HASTINGS & Bexhill RFC suffered their second defeat in three matches when they were beaten 22-21 away to Southwark Lancers.
Both sides fielded injury-depleted squads, and it showed in the quality of their play.
The Kent Division One game was disrupted throughout by a stream of penalties, turnovers and handling errors, combatants and referee seemingly competing for who could make the most mistakes.
Southwark’s sheer energy and grit gave them their initial lead, and eventually won them the game through bravely dogged defence as H&B hammered at their line in the final minutes.
A powerful and well-controlled driving maul gave Southwark a 7-0 lead. Missed tackles led to their second try a few minutes later.
H&B conceded a second successive dubious penalty for a high tackle at the restart, before a well-executed training ground move and well-timed pass by Ben Campbell put Kiwi centre Guy Ralston in for a neatly-finished try on his first team debut. Paul Sandeman converted for 14-7.
In the second half Sandeman broke off the back of a scrum, strode under the posts and converted. Immediately H&B conceded a penalty in front of their posts, and Southwark were ahead again. A run-back kick by the Southwark 15 triggered a well-worked try out wide.
Kit Claughton found a half-gap close to the posts and touched down, Matt Harbord converting. H&B threw everything at Southwark’s line, but their sword was long-blunted.
As Lady Bracknell might have said, to underperform in one game is a blip in form; to underperform in two, it begins to seem that is your form.
“As a team, we can take losing, but we just didn’t turn up today,” said assistant coach Kit Claughton. “The scoreline flattered us, but our league position doesn’t.”
H&B: Roche (Cowland), Umpleby, S. McManus, Adams, Piotrwiski, Sandeman, R. McManus, Foord-Paton (Jarvis), P. Claughton, K. Claughton, Harbord, Ralston, Diedericks, Campbell, Steadman.