Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club came home from the long trip to Sheppey yesterday (Saturday) with a much-needed bonus point win.
H&B scored tries to see off second-bottom opposition in London Three South East 45-19 and boost their hopes of avoiding relegation.
The Ark William Parker Academy-based club is now two places and seven points above the three relegation spots with five games remaining.
Fielding a squad without regulars Tom Waring and Mark Piotrowski, head coach Chris Brooks called up Mike Clifford and Tom Jones from the seconds to come on as finishers, with Jacob McDonough filling the third replacement position.
With the game barely a minute old, H&B had stormed into the lead. Tim Sills burst through the home defence and passed the ball inside to full-back Stash Maltby, who crossed the line under the posts for Bruce Steadman to convert.
Man of the match Calvin Crosby-Clarke the increased lead with a well-taken try from the base of the scrum.
Sheppey came back with a well-executed move of their own to score a good converted try, but H&B struck back when Maltby received another pass inside from Sills and went over on the left. Steadman converted with a good kick.
As the first half came to a close, H&B suffered a double injury blow with Dan Suggitt and John Hanagarth having to leave the pitch in quick succession.
Jones and Clifford came on as replacements, but during this period of reorganisation, Sheppey scored their second try to cut H&B’s lead to 19-12 at half time.
The second half started almost identically to the first. Sills stormed over the line for an excellent try, leaving Steadman with a straightforward conversion.
Ben Campbell scored two very good tries on the right wing, both the result of well-rehearsed backs’ moves. Steadman added to his tally with well-taken kicks.
Sheppey never gave up and their constant pressure on the ball resulted in their third try. Chaz Ackerley’s pass was intercepted about 20 metres out by the ever-dangerous home number six and he left H&B’s defence standing as he crossed the line.
H&B prop Steve McManus was yellow carded for a high tackle and the ensuing reorganisation meant Jack James was sacrificed to make way for the recall of Anthony Roche in the front row.
Clifford scored the final try of the day. Pressure from the H&B pack put the ball into Clifford’s hands and he capitalised on his opportunity to cross the whitewash.
H&B deserved their win. They were much the better team on the day and coped well with the disruptive and spoiling tactics of the hosts.
The pack, inspired by excellent performances from Jimmy Adams and Frazer McManus, outclassed the opposition in all set-pieces, and this good work enabled the backs to run in six well-taken tries.
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