Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s final game of the London Three South East season ended in a high scoring defeat on Saturday.
H&B, who were safe from relegation beforehand, lost 45-33 away to Bromley, although they mounted a spirited fightback from 40-9 down at half time.
In ideal conditions and on a deceptively sloping pitch, third-placed Bromley opened the scoring with a well-executed try which was converted.
Tom Waring’s boot took H&B into a 9-7 lead with three excellent penalty kicks. A quarter of the way through the game H&B were in control, but they were obviously not prepared for the onslaught that was about to hit them.
The hosts scored five tries in the space of 20 minutes, four of which were converted. Playing with the advantage of the slope, Bromley’s forwards seized the initiative and overpowered the H&B defence.
Bromley’s forwards were winning the ball and feeding their speedy backs who capitalised on the opportunities to score almost at will.
H&B head coach Chris Brooks brought on Jacob McDonough at prop for Anthony Roche at half time.
A defence-splitting pass from Chaz Ackerley put Waring away for the first score of the second half, which Waring duly converted. Bromley came back with another try, but that was the end of their points for the day.
Eliot Parry was replaced at scrum-half by Stash Maltby, who had been playing on the wing, and the fit-again Tom Jones came on in the centre with Waring moving to full-back.
The new half-back combination of Walker and Maltby clicked into gear and H&B took control of the second half. Three more well-created tries came from a concerted team effort.
Number eight John Hanagarth dived over the line from the back of a maul, while Tim Sills received an inside pass from Waring and burst through the home defence from over 30 metres out to score a try which was converted by Waring’s trusty boot.
Throughout the game Brooks had rotated his second row players Calvin Crosby-Clarke, Mike Clifford and Dom Sewell to good effect.
H&B’s pack was now working well, giving the backs the opportunity to make the most of the slope. Jones crossed the line for the bonus point fourth try to complete the scoring.
The match produced 11 tries, 10 of which were scored down the slope. H&B won the second half by four tries to one and dominated the opening quarter of the game; it was just that second 20-minute period that beat them!
With 18 individual points, Waring’s performance earned him H&B’s first Gusbourne Estate man of the match award. The Appledore wine producers have entered into sponsorship with Hastings & Bexhill RFC, rewarding the man of the match with a bottle of their award-winning bubbly.
Final standings (all played 22 matches): 1 Aylesford Bulls 97pts. 2 Thanet Wanderers 89, 3 Bromley 69, 4 Old Williamsonians 66, 5 Old Dunstonians 64, 6 Crowborough 56, 7 Lewes 55, 8 Park House 53, 9 HASTINGS & BEXHILL 50, 10 Folkestone 47, 11 Sheppey 9, 12 Crawley -4.
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