H&B face stop-start final part of season

Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club is heading into what promises to be a rather stop-start final three months of the season.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 5:11 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:17 am
Hastings & Bexhill front rowers Jacob McDonough and Joe Umpleby dispossess a Crawley opponent. Pictures by Justin Lycett

This weekend will be the first of five fixtureless weekends between now and the campaign’s end as H&B’s last eight London Three South East games are spread out between January 27 and April 14.

H&B head coach Chris Brooks said: “It’s very, very difficult when even during the week leading up to a weekend where you’ve not got a game to keep the numbers at training because guys will see it as an opportunity to do other stuff.

“Whereas they would train twice a week, they will only train once a week. But that’s down to the coaching staff.”

John Hanagarth runs at the Crawley defence.

H&B didn’t enter the London & SE Intermediate Vase this season and were beaten by higher grade Hove in round one of the Sussex Bob Rogers Cup.

“It was my decision not to enter two cup competitions this year, mainly to look after the guys,” added Brooks, whose team contested a number of cup matches at a lower level during its Kent One title-winning campaign of 2016/17. “We will handle these weekends as they come up.”

Last weekend’s 37-0 win at home to bottom-of-the-table Crawley moved H&B up to seventh in the 12-team division and they now have a nine-point cushion above the bottom three.

“There’s a slightly bigger gap between ourselves and the bottom three,” added Brooks. “I would still like to be just the other side of the halfway mark.”

Chaz Ackerley tackles a Crawley player.

Their next game is away to eighth-placed Crowborough on Saturday January 27, but four of their five matches immediately after that will be against the division’s top four clubs.

Of the Crawley game, Brooks said: “It wasn’t all plain sailing. They had come here with a determination to turn their season around and did spend large portions of the game camped in our 22, but couldn’t really breach our defence and we did have to defend hard to hold them out.

“Once we attacked hard, they couldn’t really contain us. By the last quarter of the game we were shoving them all over the park, almost the polar opposite of the previous week (when H&B were second best in the scrum against Old Williamsonians).

“It was a good all-round performance and a full 18-man performance. Our handling was slick, we were turning over nicely in the ruck and we owned our own set-piece.”

* HASTINGS & Bexhill Rugby Club’s second team is set to begin a run of three home matches in consecutive weekends.

Sixth-placed H&B will entertain Pulborough in a rearranged Sussex Two Reserve fixture today (Saturday). Kick-off at Ark William Parker Academy is 2pm.

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