Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club suffered a potentially damaging defeat in its first game for five weeks on Saturday.
H&B held a 10-0 lead with half time approaching, only for back-to-back sinbinnings to transform the Kent One fixture away to Old Williamsonians into a 22-10 strangle-hold by the hosts which H&B never looked like breaking.
Chris Stern intercepted an attacking pass from Willies in their 22. Rival players, including Stern, pressed the pause button for what looked like a knock-on before Stern reacted first, setting off for the distant tryline and beating his pursuers to it. Tom Waring, who had a good game, converted.
Moments later, Calvin Crosby-Clarke broke tackles with a 40-metre burst, winning a penalty in the process. Waring kicked it for a 10-0 lead. And that was as good as it got.
After one Willies’ handling move was tackled into touch by H&B, a second one managed to outflank the defence wide out, a foot in touch going unflagged, for an unconverted try.
There was just time before the half time whistle for one of Willies’ raucous touchline supporters to throw a punch on the pitch and H&B wing Eliot Parry to be yellow carded.
The second half began promisingly for 14-man H&B until an attack was turned over for lack of support. Willies broke from halfway and the scores were level.
Parry came back on just as Stern collected a yellow card; moments later Willies’ number eight broke through the pack and thundered to the line, 17-10.
Minutes later another Willies break saw an H&B defender tripping another, letting in a fourth try and 22-10 lead.
Elsewhere, Rye Rugby Club suffered a 45-10 defeat at home to fourth-placed Brighton II in Sussex One. See Friday’s Observers for full reports on both matches.