H&B suffer another narrow loss

Hastings & Bexhill on the defensive during the defeat against Uckfield. Picture courtesy Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)

Hastings & Bexhill on the defensive during the defeat against Uckfield. Picture courtesy Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)

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Another close game went against Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club on Saturday despite another encouraging performance.

H&B recovered from an early 20-point deficit to push hosts Uckfield all the way in their latest London Three South East encounter before going down 35-26.

Injuries and non-availability meant several changes had to be made in the run-up to the game, but the pack worked well as a unit and dominated the lineout.

The pitch was, as usual, sticky with one or two very wet patches. H&B started slowly and before they really got into the game, were four scores down within 20 minutes, all unconverted.

Many sides would have folded after this start, but H&B showed, once again, they do not buckle under pressure. They responded with a great try by the forwards, Jacob McDonough going over in a very damp corner, 20-5.

H&B upped the tempo and pressured the home side, but when attacking deep in the home half, Joe Ward was yellow carded. Usually a man down in the pack, particularly on a heavy pitch, would allow the other side to dominate. Not so in this case.

A breakaway by Tom Waring, playing at outside centre, saw him go over under the posts. This was quickly followed by a second Waring try after good support play by both backs and forwards. Both were converted to make it 20-19.

Before half time full-back Dan Haddock had to leave the pitch with a rib injury, prompting a reshuffle. There were no further scores in the first half and H&B turned round with just the single point separating the two sides.

H&B made another slow start in the second half, though, and were caught napping arguing over a penalty decision. Uckfield took advantage and scored another unconverted try following a quick tap and go.

The home team scored a second try of the half before forward pressure from H&B saw Mark Piotrowski go over after a pick and go, 30-26. Uckfield rounded off the game with a final score in the corner.

If Uckfield had kicked the conversions, the potential final score (49-26) would have flattered the home side as H&B were a lot closer than that in both effort and achievement.

There were good displays from McDonough, Waring, Chris Butler and evergreen replacement Rob McManus, but the outstanding performance of the day was from captain Jimmy Adams, who led from the front in both attack and defence, and was an inspiration to the rest of the squad.

Each week H&B seem to get better and better, and if they can start quickly rather than give their opponents early scores, victories will certainly come.

H&B: McDonough, Foord-Paton, S. McManus, Adams, Ward, James, Butler, Piotrowski, Harbord, Steadman, Sills, Crosby-Clarke, Waring, Campbell, Haddock. Subs (all used): Roche, R. McManus, Sewell.