A bonus point win and a performance packed with ambition, exuberance and promise - Hastings & Bexhill could hardly have hoped for a better start to their debut outing in Kent One on Saturday.
Away to a large HSBC side whose game plan seemed limited to dominating the set scrums and hoofing their abundant possession into H&B territory, the visitors chose to use the bowling green surface to develop the running, off-loading game they successfully unveiled in a friendly the previous weekend at Crawley to win 30-10.
HSBC went 3-0 up against the run of play. HSBC capitalised on a rare H&B fumble and powerful rucking led to a try.
Right on half time, H&B snatched a crucial equalising try by Chris Stern from a clean break by Kit Claughton.
Playing down the slight slope, H&B gradually took control of the game in the second half, destructive tackling by Piers Claughton, Jimmy Adams and Paul Sandeman in particular, helping create an increasing number of overlap chances against a tiring defence.
Within minutes, a mazy Bruce Steadman break-out was moved slickly through hands for a Sandeman try, giving H&B a lead for the first time. H&B turned over a scrum on the 22, Sandeman breaking for the line and popping to replacement Ash Diedericks, who tore in for a touchdown, 20-10.
From a scrum, the ball was spun down the line, Sealy bursting over in the corner, 25-10. It was Matt Harbord who had the last word for H&B, a chancy attacking kick from within his 22 chased up hard, confident footwork befuddling the defence for a great solo score.
A full report will appear in Friday’s Observers.