Ports had won their last three league games, but travelled to Hellingly knowing that a strong home team would face them.
The early exchanges were characterised by a well-organised Ports side in attack and defence.
Matt Standen was a willing carrier throughout, he crashed at the line whilst Joe Whitehill-James and Max Olujobi offered dancing, evasive carrying. Olujobi was unlucky not to score, a final pass being called forward. The game became chaotic.
Luke Loving-Price and Ashley Mountain made big tackles and George Upton was aggressive at the breakdown. Hellingly showed good composure, and after a break out they worked the ball through the hands and scored in the corner. They came at Ports again, it took a Mike Hutchins jackal to prevent the try. Loving-Price gave some go forward. Standen broke through the defence, before feeding Upton. He was brought short as was Tom Ingram.
Despite this the ball was quickly recycled and Colin Whyte dived over. Hellingly scored another try, again running the ball over in the corner. Ports again regrouped, Loving-Price again offering the go forward. A penalty against Hellingly was quickly shipped by Steve Hall. Whyte flicked on to Upton who could not be stopped from 10 metres out. Hutchins slotted the conversion. Upton almost added a second but Hellingly cleared their lines.
The second half saw Ports running into a strong wind. Ports found themselves under pressure almost constantly. Josh Storey and Loving-Price made key tackles and Standen attacked every breakdown. When Ports did get forward they looked slick. Upton, Whyte and Whitehill-James connected well. The majority of work in the second half was defensive. Hutchins made a great last ditch tackle, and Will Steele tidied up well. Hellingly made a number of personnel changes.
A strong kick found the defence flat-footed and Hellingly took the lead. They didn’t look back and scored a further two tries. Converting all. Despite this Ports were dogged. Barry Porter and Whyte both carried well but the game to an end with Hellingly again threatening.
Team manager Gavin Thomas captured the post-match feeling. He said: “We fought hard, and missed a few opportunities but ultimately defending for an entire half put us under too much pressure.”
The strongest performers for Ports were all consistent in their application. Storey was tidy and physical throughout. Loving-Price carried tirelessly but E-Heat man of the match was Matt Standen, who got through a lot of work in carrying and tackling tirelessly.
15 Whitehill-James 14 Olujobi 13 Hutchins 12 Standen 11 Steele 10 Hill 9 Hall 1 Behan (Wan) 2 Whyte 3 Porter 4 Mountain 5 Storey (Thomas) 6 Loving-Price 7 Upton 8 Ingram (C Barningham)