Jake Stinson scored Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s 100th try of the season, but the milestone was overshadowed by a heavy defeat.
Kent One leaders H&B were beaten 50-14 at home to Surrey One high-flyers Old Whitgiftians in a London & SE Junior Vase semi-final on Saturday.
H&B played into a virtual gale in the first half and within a minute of the start, coach Chris Brooks was rearranging his playing formation.
Dominic Sewell received a heavy blow to his shoulder and had to leave the pitch for treatment. Tom Vincent came on at prop and Steve McManus moved to the second row.
Almost immediately from the restart, pressure on the reorganised defence led to the first Whitgiftians try of the day.
Whitgiftians had several big, strong and fast men in their team, and they pressured the H&B defence into errors. Within 25 minutes, Whitgiftians were more than 20 points ahead.
H&B full-back Harry Walker, one of the stars of this season’s success, had to be helped from the pitch in a fairly dazed state following a very heavy tackle. He was replaced by Ben Campbell on the wing, with Tom Waring moving to full-back.
Despite some heroic performances from skipper Jimmy Adams, number eight Mark Piotrowski and centre Ben Petty, Whitgiftians built their lead and were 33-0 up at half time.
Playing with the benefit of the weather, H&B made more impact in the second half. They put the visitors’ defence under pressure and mounted several promising attacks, but Whitgiftians still scored three more tries with H&B replying via a brace of tries from winger Stinson.
Throughout the game the H&B backs tried to force the breaks that have been a feature of this season. Fly-half Kit Claughton initiated a fine across the pitch move for Waring to put Stinson clear for a well-constructed try which Bruce Steadman converted.
Stinson completed the scoring in the 76th minute with a well-taken try, beating the Whitgiftians full-back in a chase for the ball and touching down out on the right.
Steadman converted, but Whitgiftians ran out worthy winners and are now just two matches away from playing at Twickenham in the national final.
Jack James and Adam Baker replaced Sandeman and Ackerley in the 60th minute. Both made a positive contribution and are definitely good prospects for the future.
H&B: Roche, Umpleby, S. McManus, Sewell (Vincent 1), Adams, F. McManus, Sandeman (James 60), Piotrowski, Steadman, Claughton, Stinson, Ackerley (Baker 60), Petty, T. Waring, Walker (Campbell 27).
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