Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club overturned an early deficit to triumph in its first fixture of 2016.
H&B became the first team other than Kent One leaders Sheppey to win away to Lordswood this season courtesy of a 22-5 victory on Saturday.
“It was a good result,” said H&B head coach Chris Brooks. “It took us a while to get going and we conceded the first try, but the second half was much better.”
Captain Jimmy Adams made an earlier than anticipated return to an H&B squad which had a number of late changes due to injury and unavailability.
Good cover defence from H&B forced Lordswood into touch just short of the tryline, but a sloppy pass from a scrum close to the line allowed the Lordswood flanker to dive over for an unconverted try. A quarter of the game had gone and Lordswood had scored from their only attack.
H&B proceeded to attack with great running angles from the backs led by Kit Claughton, astute kicking from Harry Foster, and strong support play from forwards Mark Piotrowski, Chris Stern, John Hanagarth and Tom Vincent, who was playing his first senior game for the club.
Hanagarth broke from the base of an attacking scrum, sucked in the defence and released the ball to the backs. Swift hands released Ben Campbell to score and Foster converted to give H&B a 7-5 half time advantage.
H&B played into a strengthening breeze during the second half. Bruce Steadman had to leave the field due to injury and Ben Petty came on for his first appearance for the club in two years.
H&B continued to attack with clever running lines and some excellent tactical kicking by Foster. With Lordswood under pressure, they were restricted to kicking to clear their lines.
From one such clearing kick Walker collected the ball on halfway and ran it back, linking with Petty and Tim Sills. The attack was stopped short of the line, but quick recycling saw the ball popped up to Steve McManus, who rumbled over the line for an unconverted try.
H&B turned over a Lordswood ball. A clearance kick by Foster and a great follow up by Sills, Petty and Harry Walker forced Lordswood to concede a penalty, which Foster duly kicked.
Two yellow cards in quick succession saw H&B down to 13 men and under massive pressure, but good defence by the backs kept Lordswood out.
A training ground move saw the backs open up the Lordswood defence, allowing Sills to run into space and score a try by the posts. Foster converted to complete the scoring.
Due to an injury to the referee, the game ended a few minutes early with the agreement of both captains.
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