Rye Rugby Club might have been well beaten by table-topping opposition on Saturday, but did at least earn plenty of praise for its efforts.
The New Roaders lost 63-0 at home to Guernsey-based Sussex Division Two leaders St Jacques Vikings.
Rye coach Jeremy Nobbs said: “St Jacques were very complimentary about us. They said one of the reasons they were looking forward to coming here was because of the effort we made to go out there (for the reverse fixture earlier in the season when Rye were light on numbers).
“They said it was nice to play against a proper rugby team. It’s a nice compliment to have and it’s nice to know the efforts we’re making are being appreciated, even if they’re not being reflected in the score.
“We did our best and looked after them properly afterwards, and they were appreciative of that as well.”
With the pitch in commendably good condition for the time of year, Rye started the match well and almost scored the opening try.
An attack up the middle of the pitch featuring some good offloading ended with Rye winning a penalty, but they missed the ensuing kick at goal and from then on it was one-way traffic in favour of St Jacques.
A lot of the visitors’ early tries frustratingly came from errors on Rye’s part, with too many Rye passes ending up in the hands of St Jacques’ players rather than their own. Rye’s heads seemed to go down and the floodgates rather opened.
The second half was a bit closer on a chilly lunchtime at New Road as Rye rotated their 18-man matchday squad to ensure that everybody played at least three-quarters of the game.
Nobbs said: “The guys fronted up, played for 80 minutes and made an effort. We kept going all the way through, we just weren’t in the same league as them.
“It’s just firepower. You can’t have a battle when your firepower is so under-strength and that’s where we’re at. Every so often you see flashes of what we’re capable of, but we can’t sustain it.
“The second half was a manful effort by the team. We kept it going and kept playing hard, but they’re a very good, well-drilled side and their backs were superior to our backs. They should be up in the next league.”
One of the main positives for Rye was the performance of 18-year-old Jackson Harvey and Will Nunn, who celebrated his 17th birthday the previous day.
Both played very well and were widely commended for their efforts. Harvey, son of Rye player Dan Harvey, was probably Rye’s star performer on the day, but Nunn, son of club chairman Graham Nunn, was also very impressive in his first adult game.
A third new player, Tom Pierce, a big lad visiting from New Zealand, was very effective in the scrummage and carrying around the pitch.
Rye were also pleased to welcome back talented player Gary Edmunds, who was a key part of the Sussex Shield winning team in 2013.
“It was nice to know we had numbers on the side,” added Nobbs. “Within the context of the season, numbers are improving. It’s better than it has been.
“We’re hoping to score a few tries and raise the spirits. We need to score a few points to get everybody back into the habit of what it takes to win.”
Second-bottom Rye will begin the final third of their league campaign with a trip to seventh-placed St Francis this coming Saturday in a fixture rearranged after being postponed a fortnight ago.
“Again it’s a question of who’s available,” said Nobbs, whose team is due to train tonight. “I know we’ve got a couple of people who aren’t available because of work. We’ll be down a couple of key players, but that’s to be expected.”
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