Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club gave top five opposition a real run for their money on Saturday.
H&B rallied from 18-0 down to 18-14 away to Old Dunstonians before conceding a converted try to go down 25-14 in their latest London Three South East fixture.
On paper, with seven places separating the two teams and H&B away from home, this should have been an easy win for Dunstonians. In reality, however, nothing could have been further from the truth.
The first half appeared to be all-OD’s. Their first score came after seven minutes when H&B were penalised for going over the top, presenting an easy penalty from in front of the posts.
An attacking H&B kick was fielded by the OD’s winger on halfway and he broke through several tackles for an easy try in the corner, 10-0.
Soon after the restart, OD’s kicked a penalty to the corner. Following a clean lineout take, a maul was set up and the pack pushed over the line.
Fifteen minutes into the game and already 15 points down, things did not look good for H&B as OD’s were monopolising play.
A penalty attempt by Tom Waring was missed. Harry Foster then took over kicking duties and saw his attempt narrowly miss the posts.
Foster won a foot race with the OD’s winger, who had cleverly kicked ahead, before Dunstonians kicked another penalty to lead 18-0. H&B hit back, though, when a quick tap penalty and driving maul ended with Jacob McDonough bullying his way over for a try converted by Foster, 18-7.
Half time came shortly after with H&B surprised the score was as close as it was given that OD’s appeared to have had most of the ball.
In the second half, H&B were indebted to a try-saving tackle from Ben Campbell, but the visitors were playing with confidence in attack and weren’t allowing the home side any space to attack.
A rash of yellow cards to OD’s reduced them to 13 men. H&B were camped in the home red zone and two more yellow cards followed for forwards going over the top.
A five-metre scrum against a weakened OD’s pack allowed H&B to push over the line with Steve McManus getting the final touch. Foster converted and at 18-14, H&B were within touching distance of a win.
H&B continued to pressure with back line breaks and forward moves, but were unable to break the OD’s defence. A deep probing kick by H&B gave OD’s ball in hand and they moved it quickly along the line. A change of direction from the centre wrong-footed the H&B back line and they ran in for a match-winning converted try under the posts.
H&B: Ward, Foord-Paton, McDonough, Adams, Piotrowski, Stern, S. McManus, A. Waring, Steadman, Nichols, Campbell, T. Waring, Ackerley, Sills, Foster. Replacements: Crosby-Clarke, R. McManus.