Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club eased through to the Sussex Shield semi-finals with a 43-10 win away to Horsham II on Saturday.
Despite having to field a team that showed four changes from the previous weekend and the late withdrawal of Tom Vincent because of illness, Kent One leaders H&B secured a solid quarter-final victory over the bottom club in Sussex One.
On a sloping and uneven pitch, H&B were soon into their stride by scoring two good tries within 10 minutes.
The first came from Calvin Crosby-Clarke, who finished a good forwards’ move started by skipper Jimmy Adams. The second was the result of a scintillating run from deep inside his own half by Tim Sills, who burst through the Horsham forwards and left their defence trailing in his wake.
Then came a period of uncharacteristic and disorganised play in the H&B defence as the visitors conceded two tries in five minutes to make the scores level after a quarter-of-an-hour.
H&B struggled to regain control and Horsham were not playing like a team rooted to the bottom of their league as competed for every ball and caused the H&B pack many problems.
Chris Stern marked his return to first XV action, however, with a well-taken try after Steve McManus and Crosby-Clarke linked well to put the flanker away.
With H&B five points ahead, coach Chris Brooks made two changes at half time, including introducing the fit-again Harry Walker at full-back.
H&B pulled away after the restart, with Sills in devastating form, scoring two more tries, both of which were converted by Bruce Steadman.
The first saw Sills collect the ball out on the wing and surged through a rather flat-footed Horsham defence to score under the posts. For the second, the inspirational Adams broke through the home line to put the winger away.
Kit Claughton came on at centre and immediately instigated a good backs’ move to put Walker away for the first of two tries. He followed this with a lightning 30-metre dash after Tom Waring took a quick penalty to put the full-back clear. Steadman also converted both of these tries.
The outstanding performance of the day came from third choice hooker Jack James, who played extremely well in this pivotal role and was voted man of the match by his team-mates.
The win capped a great day for the club with both the second and third XVs securing convincing wins against Sussex Police and Maidstone V respectively.
H&B: Roche, James, S. McManus, Adams (c), Crosby-Clarke, Stern, F. McManus, Piotrowski, Parry, Steadman, Stinson, Campbell, Ackerley, Sills, Waring. Replacements: Walker, Claughton, Pepper.
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