Hastings & Bexhill narrowly beaten by high-flying visitors

Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club was edged out by just three points against second-placed opposition on Saturday.

Friday, 11th January 2019, 11:08 am
Updated Friday, 11th January 2019, 11:13 am
Tim Sills touches down to score a try for Hastings & Bexhill against Old Williamsonians. Pictures by Simon Newstead

H&B went down 16-13 at home to Old Williamsonians in a thrilling first London Three South East fixture of 2019 at Ark William Parker Academy.

Williamsonians have always been tough opposition and presented H&B with many problems, but this time H&B rose to the occasion. They played with spirit and tenacity throughout the game, and but for two moments of silliness, could have sprung a major surprise.

See also: * Goalkeeper suffers serious injury* Tottenham Hotspur debut for son of ex-Hastings United player* Hollington United sign higher level duoOn an unusually dry playing surface for the time of year, H&B took the lead with a beautifully taken penalty by Tom Waring from at least 35 metres out.

Sills is congratulated by a pair of team-mates after scoring his try

The first half continued with robust and physical play from both teams. Calvin Crosby-Clarke was yellow carded for a high tackle and during his absence Williamsonians took the lead.

The visitors firstly levelled the scores with a straightforward penalty and then scored an unconverted try, despite huge defensive play from 14-man H&B.

Adam Baker came off the bench into the reorganised pack and full-back Stash Maltby was sacrificed to the touchline.

The home side regained the lead with a blistering try from winger Tim Sills, who showed amazing speed to burst through the Williamsonians defence from more than 25 metres out to score under the posts; Bruce Steadman converted to put H&B two points in front at 10-8.

Frazer McManus in possession for H&B

H&B skipper Joe Umpleby was sin-binned for obstructing the taking of a quick penalty by the Williamsonians scrum-half and from the retaken tap, the away team moved the ball across the pitch to score an unconverted try, giving them a 13-10 lead at the interval.

As Umpleby returned, H&B coach Ben Davies introduced his replacements. Sam Surridge made way for Archie Ridpath, Steve McManus was replaced by Jacob McDonough and Crosby- Clarke rotated with Adam Parkhouse in the second row.

These fresh legs brought more drive to the H&B attack and the hosts were rewarded with another finely-struck penalty from Waring to bring the scores level with only 10 minutes to play.

The visitors retook the lead with a penalty awarded for offside, but H&B were in the ascendancy with Williamsonians struggling to stay in the game.

Hastings & Bexhill and Old Williamsonians tussle for possession

The away hooker was red carded for foul play, but despite intense pressure and scrum after scrum on the five-metre line, H&B were unable to cross the whitewash for a potentially match-winning try.

A disappointing end, but if H&B can carry this form into tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) fixture away to fellow strugglers Lewes, a much-needed win is only a whisker away.

Although bottom of the table, H&B are just four points behind Park House and Bromley, and six adrift of Lewes.