Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s run in the London & SE Junior Vase quarter-finals was ended by the Surrey One leaders.
Kent One side H&B lost out 34-8 away to an Old Cranleighans team which, on the evidence of Saturday’s encounter, would have well beaten any of the clubs in their own league.
Up against a well-organised and hard working opposition, from the start H&B were under pressure, despite the valiant efforts of the forwards, who were well-matched.
As the ball was moved out to the backs, it was obvious where the danger was going to come from. Cranleighans’ backs were well-drilled and relentless in their barrage of the H&B defence.
After six phases of attack, the Cranleighans inside centre saw his gap and burst through to score the opening try near to the posts, which was easily converted.
The firm playing surface and absence of wind suited Cranleighans’ style of play; they made full use of the short, wide pitch and set their backs free at every opportunity. Cranleighans increased their lead with a well-struck penalty awarded for not releasing the ball in a ruck.
A back injury to inspirational captain Jimmy Adams forced H&B coach Chris Brooks to reorganise his pack after only 10 minutes, but Alex Waring came on and played very well.
Bruce Steadman converted a penalty for offside, making the score 10-3 after 20 minutes of very tough play.
Cranleighans scored two more converted tries before half time to lead 24-3. Their backs capitalised on every opportunity, their handling was slick and they moved at speed.
The second half was more evenly contested. Cranleighans scored a penalty and a converted try when their winger fielded a long clearance and ran at the H&B defence, kicking the ball over the top and collecting it to race across the line for a well-taken score.
H&B made good use of their replacements - Alex Nichols, Tucker White and Robin Brereton. These changes gave the team some fresh legs and they all made a good contribution to the last 25 minutes.
Harry Walker had an excellent game at full-back; he fielded the ball well, was very strong in the tackle and made several good breaks.
One of these attacks set up the ruck for number eight Mark Piotrowski to dive over the Cranleighans line for an unconverted try.
Steve McManus was yellow carded two minutes from the end for coming to the young full-back’s aid as he was the victim of a misplaced opposition boot.
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