Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club was knocked out of the London & SE Senior Vase in agonising fashion.
H&B’s second round tie against London Exiles on Saturday ended 15-15 after normal and extra-time, but it was the Exiles who progressed by virtue of being the away side.
H&B knew they were in for a tough game as London Three South West team Exiles had beaten H&B’s London Three South East rivals Heathfield & Waldron 27-0 in the previous round.
On a dry afternoon but with a strong crosswind, Jack James made his first start on the wing after Bruce Steadman over-stretched a hamstring during the warm-up.
H&B kicked-off with the wind at their backs. Exiles dominated the first half with H&B only making occasional forays into the away half.
The first score came from an H&B scrummage in their own red zone. A high pass back put Alex Nichols under pressure behind the tryline. After trying to run out of defence, H&B lost the ball, allowing Exiles a very opportunistic try.
The second score came after H&B had kicked a long ball which didn’t find touch. Exiles ran the ball back from left to right, switched back and the fly-half stepped the defence and had a two to one advantage against full-back Tom Waring. Exiles scored under the posts and an easy conversion gave them a 12-0 half time advantage.
A penalty early in the second half made it 15-0, but H&B didn’t lie down and strong scrummaging led to their first try. A set-piece in the Exiles’ red zone led to Jimmy Adams popping out of the maul to score the opening try. Waring converted.
The second try was much the same. Continued pressure saw H&B work their way upfield and another good rolling maul resulted in Mark Piotrowski touching down for an unconverted try, 12-15.
At the death H&B were awarded a penalty 35 metres out. They decided to kick for goal, and despite the gusting crossfield wind and pressure, Waring hit the ball straight through the posts to make it 15-15 at full time.
This was the first time extra-time had been required in a cup match at H&B. The game went from end-to-end during the additional 20 minutes, but neither side was able to break the deadlock and the scores were still level.
RFU regulations state that in those circumstances the team that has scored most tries shall be declared the winners. If this does not produce a result, the team that has scored the most goals from tries will prevail. If the scores remain equal, the away team shall be declared the winners. So after 100 minutes of tough rugby, H&B lost the match.
H&B: McDonough, Foord-Paton, McManus, Adams, Holewell, Stern, Piotrowski, Sandeman, Harbord, Nichols, Jack, Crosby-Clarke, Haddock, Sills, Waring. Replacements: Sewell, Ward, Roche.