Title winners H&B keen to end on winning note

John Hanagarth in possession for Hastings & Bexhill against Sittingbourne last weekend. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker
John Hanagarth in possession for Hastings & Bexhill against Sittingbourne last weekend. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker
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The Kent One title might already be in the bag, but Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club head coach Chris Brooks is determined to end the league campaign on a winning note.

H&B will round-off their league programme with a trip to fourth-placed HSBC today (Saturday) eager for a victory following last weekend’s surprise loss away to Sittingbourne.

H&B in possession against Sittingbourne. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

H&B in possession against Sittingbourne. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

Brooks said: “The last thing I want is for the end of the season to be anti-climatic. We’ve got to maintain our standard for the cup fixtures anyway and HSBC on paper are a much tougher proposition than Sittingbourne.”

H&B will hope to welcome back several players who missed the Sittingbourne game, but will have to assess the fitness of players such as Chaz Ackerley and Bruce Steadman who picked up knocks in that match.

Brooks admitted H&B ‘didn’t play very well at all’ as they suffered only their second Kent One loss all season against Sittingbourne. H&B went down 31-17 against relegation-threatened opposition despite establishing a 12-0 lead.

Brooks said: “We had a bad day; we didn’t play very well at all. I personally was especially disappointed and the skipper (Jimmy Adams) was in agreement with me.

Kit Claughton on the ball with Bruce Steadman in the background. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

Kit Claughton on the ball with Bruce Steadman in the background. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

“We had six changes from the previous week (when H&B beat second-placed Old Williamsonians to clinch the title) - Mark Piotrowski, Joe Umpleby, Tom Waring and Harry Walker were unavailable, Steve McManus was rested and Eliot Parry needed to rest his hand from the nasty cut - but I’ve got no intention of using that as an excuse.

“We had the talent in that side to play our usual game; we just didn’t. The players that did come up to play didn’t get to play in a team that was on top of its game.

“It was probably a combination of several things - battle fatigue and probably a little bit of complacency in that we had already won the league and were playing a team second-from-bottom. On the day they just wanted it more than we did and they played some very good rugby.”

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Chris Stern on his way to the tryline against Sittingbourne. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

Chris Stern on his way to the tryline against Sittingbourne. Picture courtesy Nigel Baker

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