Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club went top of Kent One courtesy of a 22-5 win in an enthralling battle at home to Old Williamsonians on Saturday.
The first quarter proved a lottery, players unable to change pace or direction, kicks landing dead on sodden ground, tacklers and tackled sliding uncontrollably, preceded by a bow wave of rainwater.
Both sides were understandably making handling errors, but it was Willies who hung onto the ball to attack through midfield for a well-worked but soft try, 0-5. Those were the first points H&B have conceded on home turf this season.
H&B were stung into a swift and stylish response. Kit Claughton stole the ball in a tackle, Ben Campbell broke, Mark Piotrowski carried, and Piers Claughton cut a line for a fine try, well-converted by Tom Waring, 7-5.
With conditions improving, the game revealed distinct styles: H&B trying to build attacks, Willies going for a smash-and-grab approach. A Waring penalty took H&B into half time leading 10-5.
Just after Willies missed a vital penalty conversion, an H&B lineout catch and drive saw Kit Claughton break for the line, driven over by Piers for the try, converted by Waring, 17-5.
Still Willies fought back but a loose pass near their line allowed Chris Stern to pounce on the ball with the final play of the game for a 22-5 final score. See Friday’s Observers for a full report and more pictures.
Standings (all played eight matches): 1 HASTINGS & BEXHILL 32pts, 2 Park House 32, 3 Southwark Lancers 30, 4 Cranbrook 29, 5 Vigo 22, 6 Old Williamsonians 18, 7 Old Gravesendians 17, 8 King’s College Hospital 12, 9 Sittingbourne 12, 10 HSBC 12, 11 Foots Cray 7, 12 Shooters Hill 7.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Rye Rugby Club failed to raise a side for their trip to Brighton II in Sussex One. Rye remain rooted to the foot of the table.