Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s five-game winning run was unceremoniously ended by a 49-0 defeat away to Kent One leaders Dartfordians on Saturday.
Darts’ big runners and slick backline caught H&B on a rare off-day and had the greater hunger to exploit it, and avenge H&B’s big win last season, that ended their unbeaten run.
H&B remain in second place, but for all the team skills, verve and grit they’ve been building under their effective coaching regime, they were perhaps guilty of taking their eye off the league and looking ahead to this weekend’s Sussex Shield defence.
Missing several first choice players, H&B were flat and out of sorts, dropping balls they’d normally hold and leaking penalties. Darts kicked a 3-0 lead after 13 minutes and never looked back. Their first try came from a controlled maul from a lineout near H&B’s line.
Their second came from a restart run back at H&B. They then rucked over H&B’s ball, and counter-attacked down the line for a 24-0 lead. The final minutes of the first half saw H&B’s best period of play. Piers Claughton stopped Darts’ powerful number eight’s break, and from a scrum on Darts’ 22, Kit Claughton broke a number of tackles, the ball moved wide, only for a knock-on with the line in sight.
In the second half another Darts breakaway try extended their lead. Darts scored again; H&B wasted a scoring opportunity with a botched scrum five. Darts broke down the touchline for a final try and what they would probably regard as their best victory - and H&B as their worst defeat - of the season.
Rye RFC, meanwhile, received a walkover for the third time in recent weeks as scheduled visitors Haywards Heath II were unable to raise a side. Rye remain third in Sussex One.