Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s run of four successive league wins was narrowly ended in Beckenham on Saturday.
H&B were edged out 33-29 in a keenly-fought Kent One game away to a fifth-placed HSBC side which has won its last six matches.
HSBC were well-drilled, very quick and large; they had some big men in vital positions. H&B fielded a side containing several changes from the previous week’s home win over King’s College Hospital.
The teams were evenly balanced and the lead changed hands several times throughout the game. HSBC opened the scoring with a good try from their right winger, who came into the line at pace to crash over in the corner.
Tim Sills equalised with a fine try after Harry Walker made an opening to wrong-foot the home defence. Harry Foster converted and then put H&B further ahead with a well-struck penalty, awarded for offside .
The home team retook the lead with a try under the posts, which was converted, and then extended its advantage with a penalty.
Sills levelled the scores again at 15-15 on the stroke of half time, receiving the ball on the 10-metre line and running through the home defence.
The teams turned round with H&B matching tough opposition in every department, but HSBC continued to pressure the visitors’ defence and scored two quick tries at the start of the second half. Despite some fantastic defensive work from Chas Ackerley, Walker and Bruce Steadman, the home backs were able to create gaps and score.
Scott Trotter came on for Rob McManus in the second row, which gave fresh legs to the pack and number eight John Hanagarth scored a good try off the base of the scrum. Foster converted to bring H&B within three points of the opposition.
HSBC increased their lead after the inside centre created a huge gap in the H&B defence to crash over the line.
H&B then scored what, in the opinion of head coach Chris Brooks, was their try of the season so far. Sills collected his own kick forward before breaking through the defence and passing inside for Foster to score near the posts. Foster converted to cut H&B’s deficit to a single point.
As the game was coming to a close, however, HSBC were awarded another penalty which they kicked to run out narrow victors.
H&B had certainly given their all in a hard, fast game. The backs defended well and took their chances, while the forwards - although buffeted by some big men - held their own and created plenty of ball for the young centres and wings to use.
Although it was disappointing to lose, there were plenty of positives about the performance, not least the effort and spirit in which this developing side played the game.
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!