H&B suffer first defeat as club remembers Len

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Len Bolton was remembered at Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club on Saturday.

There was a minute’s applause and three cheers for the former club secretary, who died on July 31, before kick-off at Ark William Parker Academy.

For the first time this season H&B had two teams playing at home and with more than 70 guests attending the president’s lunch, it was an opportune moment to honour a man who had contributed so much to the club for more than 20 years.

During the afternoon, a bucket collection raised nearly £150 for Cancer Research UK in Len’s memory.

As for the rugby, with former captains Jimmy Adams and Steve McManus sidelined by injury and current skipper Joe Umpleby still out with a broken nose, the H&B squad once again showed several changes.

Jacob McDonough and Calvin Crosby-Clarke started in a reshuffled pack, with Ben Campbell, Mike Clifford and Paul Sandeman on the bench.

Old Williamsonians are a big, strong team and last season’s games were two of the hardest H&B faced throughout their Kent One championship-winning campaign.

The first half was an evenly-fought battle with both teams unable to gain the upper hand. Williamsonians had a slender three-point lead at half time via a penalty awarded for not releasing the ball after the tackle.

H&B had missed two difficult chances to take the lead before half time, but did hit the front early in the second period.

Tim Sills made a surging break from over 40 metres out and passed the ball inside for Jake Stinson to cross the line under the posts. Bruce Steadman made no mistake with the conversion.

Williamsonians came back and with the pressure mounting on the H&B defence, converted a penalty awarded for offside, narrowing their deficit to 7-6.

The visitors then bombarded H&B’s line and inevitably the penalty count mounted. Williamsonians chose to take the lineout and scrummage options to put the home players under even more pressure, and eventually Mark Piotrowski was yellow carded for one offence too many. Williamsonians capitalised on their numerical advantage and took an 11-7 lead with a try in the corner.

Campbell came on for Stinson and Sandeman replaced Frazer McManus in the back row, but Williamsonians were not to be denied. They scored another try from a pushover scrum which was converted to win a very hard-fought game 18-7.