Hastings & Bexhill’s first warm-up trial game of the 2012/13 rugby season showed the coaches that whatever else they need to work on, fighting spirit and go-forward ambition are already present in full measure.
A squad of 23 players - missing half a dozen of last season’s first choice forwards including skipper Paul Sandeman - travelled to Kent club Vigo, newly promoted to London Three South East.
Last season H&B lost at Vigo in Kent One despite a late comeback, but beat them convincingly at William Parker Sports College.
On Saturday a very mixed squad which included virtually two complete sets of backs played four quarters; every player given a minimum of 20 minutes.
Over the four fiercely competitive sessions, H&B scored four tries and conceded two in a 26-12 win. Dillon Newell and skipper Jimmy Adams each touched down, and Tom Waring scored a brace, one of them a hugely encouraging touchline-to-touchline end-to-end display of quick-witted handling and intelligent running lines.
Although their normally clinical lineout wasn’t quite functioning, H&B’s scrummaging already showed the benefit of adding forwards coach Chris Brooks to last season’s successful coaching team of Kevin Smith (head coach) and Kit Claughton (backs), and of Steve McManus moving from number eight to tighthead prop with considerable impact.
Two new players showed their paces impressively: Eliot Parry, a rugby league player from Leeds, and Brazilian student Luigi Fagherazzi da Paz.
H&B will play a second pre-season friendly at home to a Tonbridge Judds side on Saturday before hosting Old Gravesendians in their first Kent One league game of the season the following weekend.