Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club has slipped to the foot of the table with two games of the season remaining.
H&B’s 27-11 defeat at Pulborough on Saturday saw them drop below Lewes, who won at home to Gillingham Anchorians, on points difference, but both clubs will be relegated from London Three South East.
Pulborough elected to take advantage of the slight slope during the first half. The crosswind was inevitably going to make kicking difficult and an early Harry Foster penalty from 35 metres was blown off course.
Although H&B held the Pulborough pack at a scrum, the hosts were able to release the ball quickly and a neat blindside move resulted in the first score of the day, 5-0.
A penalty put H&B on the Pulborough five-metre line, but a set move to the front of the line was deemed short by the referee.
Pulborough were penalised for obstruction and, after a comment from one of their players, were marched back a further 10 metres.
With the big boot of Tom Waring available, H&B elected to kick from the 10-metre line and despite the crosswind, the ball sailed through the middle of the posts, 5-3.
Pulborough kicked a penalty to touch and a rolling maul was set up from the resulting lineout, enabling Pulborough to carry the ball over the line, 10-3.
Following a quick tap penalty, the ball was taken on by Rob McManus and then Mark Piotrowski. A rolling maul was set up and the pack carried over the line with Jacob McDonough getting the try, 10-8.
Pulborough’s pressure showed when some loose play saw them score a converted try under the posts, 17-8.
Both number 10s were yellow carded for a “heated discussion” and after H&B were penalised for offside well inside their own half, Pulborough kicked a penalty to lead 20-8 at half time.
Early pressure by H&B in the second half was rewarded with a penalty by Waring, 20-11. An overthrow in the lineout from H&B, however, led to the Pulborough backs moving the ball quickly through the hands. Only a dropped pass saved H&B from falling further behind.
The final quarter was pretty much all-Pulborough. The H&B line was under pressure from a succession of penalties five metres out and despite outstanding defence, Pulborough finally broke through to score under the posts. An easy conversion completed the scoring.
Another defeat, but another good performance from an H&B side without its influential captain Jimmy Adams.
H&B: McDonough, Foord-Paton, Ward, R. McManus, Clifford, Sandeman, Stern, Piotrowski, White, Nichols, Sills, T. Waring, Ackerley, Campbell, Foster. Replacements (all used): Roche, Sewell, Crosby-Clarke.