Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club clinched its first win of the season with a 20-12 success away to Lewes yesterday (Saturday).
A healthy growth of grass on the playing surface had the dual effect of impeding the goal kickers and making heavy work for runners. Coupled with the almost tropical humidity on the day, the match was turned into an endurance test and H&B it was who endured.
But the real reason for the Blue & Whites notching up the day’s only away win in London Three South East was the pre-eminence of their pack where the evergreen Steve McManus dominated at tight head in a front row whose superiority led to their opposition avoiding set scrums whenever the choice arose.
This dominance was evident from the start with H&B using good ball well and right wing Tim Sills touching down after 10 minutes. Tom Waring was unable to covert but, as a rather messy game moved into the second quarter, was on hand to kick a penalty goal.
H&B then rather botched things and the ever-lively home side got over for it to be 5-10 at half time.
H&B started the second half with as good a try as you would wish to see, with high speed handling between backs and forwards resulting in skipper Jimmy Adams diving over.
Everything afterwards had the air of anti-climax with Lewes, full of running throughout, adding to their tally to close to 12-15, but that was as near as they got.
The Blue & Whites lost Dom Sewell with suspected concussion, but had the experienced Paul Sandeman as replacement and started to make inroads, a concerted attack ending with the impressive Calvin Crosby-Clarke taking several defenders over in one of his trademark efforts.
Desperate for a bonus point, Lewes played catch up rugby but, with both sides visibly tiring, and Jason Holewell the unlucky recipient of the almost inevitable yellow card, H&B’s defence held out.
After the rude shock of the first Saturday, H&B will be pleased their pack is showing signs of the efficiency of the last two seasons and while the now Claughton-less back division still lacks effective kicking in attack, the youngsters are showing they know the way to the tryline.
H&B: T. Waring; Campbell, Crosby-Clarke, Haddock, Sills; Steadman, Harbord; Ward, Foord-Paton, McManus; Sewell, Adams; Holewell. Stern, Hanagarth. Replacements: Sandeman, Ackerley, A. Waring.