H&B repeat Vase triumph
CRAWLEY 10HASTINGS & BEXHILL 16
LAST year's Powergen Junior Vase victory at Crawley came as a surprise to many; this time it was even more so.
Club spokesman Peter Knight said: "We weren't so confident this year but we did well. The players have lifted their game a lot and (the performances last season) have given them more confidence and skill. Neil Redman is a terrific captain and they've got a lot of faith in each other."
Hastings & Bexhill, helped by the wind on a firm pitch, took an early lead through a Paul Sandeman penalty. The advantage was extended when a move involving Danny Ralph, David Northen, Ben Davies and Jimmy Adams, making his first appearance after an extended stay in Australia, was finished off by Paul Sandeman.
Crawley retaliated, though, and began to put some heat on H&B, forcing Davies off with an injured shoulder. After further pressure the away backline lost its shape a little, allowing Crawley to canter over the line.
The second half followed the same pattern of hard tackling and strong running. Neil Redman slotted a penalty to give H&B a little breathing space, threatened when Sandeman was sin-binned for an innocuous incident.
Although Crawley pressed hard for a score, H&B broke away with the help of a couple of penalties and a try by Adams. Crawley set up a tense finish by breaching the H&B line but H&B held on for the win.
The tireless Paul Flood was Morgan & Lamplugh man of the match.
p H&B will not allow the victory to go to heads. That is the view of club spokesman Peter Knight ahead of "another tough game" at home to Horsham in Sussex Division One tomorrow (Saturday).
He said: "It's a confidence booster but we've just got to keep building. We're coming from a position of strength but I'm not going to stand here and tell you we're going to be League champions in December." Shane Potter (leg) misses out.