Rye Rugby Club made a winning start to the new league season on Saturday.
The New Roaders led virtually all the way during a 26-20 victory at home to Heathfield & Waldron II in Sussex Division Two.
Despite missing several players due to holidays and work commitments, Rye still managed to field 20 men for a clash between the sides who finished third and fourth respectively last term.
Heathfield opened the scoring with a penalty, but Rye hit back strongly. French prop Kevin Cathelin made a line break and although stopped near the tryline, managed to offload to Liam Booth, who provided great support and went over for the score. Chris Edwards added the conversion to put Rye 7-3 up.
Rye extended their advantage to 14-3 when a sustained spell of pressure ended with Rory Creavin picking up from the back of a scrum and evading the defence to score. Edwards again added the extra two points.
Heathfield replied with an unconverted and were attacking Rye’s line again when their fly-half misplaced a looping pass under pressure from Tom Martin, Chris Cordeux intercepted and ran virtually the length of the field to score under the posts. Edwards converted to make it 21-8.
Rye gave themselves further breathing space when Creavin scored their fourth and final try, again picking up from the back of the scrum and darting over. Edwards agonisingly missed out on a full house of conversions after his kick struck the crossbar.
Rye looked just about home and hosed at 26-8, but a couple of injuries caused a bit of a reshuffle and a little bit of early season tiredness crept into the ranks during the closing stages.
Heathfield came back with a couple of tries, one of which was converted, and it might have been worse for Rye had it not been for a bizarre blunder on the part of their opponents. In between those two tries, a Heathfield player ran over the dead ball line instead of touching down in the in-goal area, and the ‘try’ was disallowed.
Rye managed to hold on and see the game out to make it 10 consecutive league wins stretching back to January.
It was a good performance on the whole from Rye, whose handling, attack and defence were all pretty decent. The scrum and lineout also functioned fairly well, although fitness was an area to work on.
There were a number of contenders for man of the match, but the nod went to John Smith, a flanker who stepped in to the front row and whose work was above the call of duty.
Rye, who have picked up former Folkestone player Ceriap Bryn, will head to Ditchling for their first away game of the campaign tomorrow (Saturday). Ditchling lost 37-0 away to Pulborough II last weekend.
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