Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club returned to action after the festive break with a narrow defeat in a mid-table battle on Saturday.
H&B were beaten 27-17 away to Old Williamsonians in a terrific London Three South East fixture containing lots of big hits, big runs and expansive rugby.
Head coach Chris Brooks said: “It’s difficult to put a finger on what went wrong. We actually played pretty well, although not as well as them.
“The physicality and athleticism were there, but they had us in the set-piece. Their scrum was very big and powerful, and we got nudged around probably more than we have done all season.
“At the end of the day it was our discipline that cost us. We had a period of the game early in the second half where we got very frustrated as the decisions didn’t go our way and we managed to lose the ref as well.
“Everyone on the park was disappointed at the result. The guys know they’ve been beaten by a well-drilled team, but not one we couldn’t have beaten. It was one (a fixture) that we had targeted so we’ve got to get back on target.”
H&B came under early pressure, but solid defence kept Williamsonians at bay until the home side opened the scoring through a very good backs’ move which split the visiting centres.
The away team replied with an excellent try. After Stash Maltby eluded several tackles on an arcing run from one side of the pitch to the other, a series of offloads featuring good support play and handling led to Tom Sills using his strength to power over the line.
Williamsonians scored the next two tries, both unconverted, as H&B went through a fairly disorganised passage of play with the scrum being sent backwards and players falling off tackles.
H&B responded, though, with a try from a training ground move to reach half time trailing by three points at 15-12.
The second half was fairly even, but Williamsonians scored again to lead 22-12 and things started to go wrong for H&B after a controversial decision went against them.
Bruce Steadman appeared to be taken out from behind off the ball, but nothing was given and that seemed to get under H&B’s skins as they went into a negative mode.
Four consecutive penalties took Williamsonians close to H&B’s line and their big prop drove over. Jimmy Adams claimed he was underneath the ball and it should’ve been held up, but the referee awarded the try and gave Adams a yellow card.
H&B pressed quite well and contained Williamsonians in their half while down to 14 men. After Adams returned, H&B were attacking the home line when they dropped the ball, and the home full-back broke out of defence, evaded some poor tackling, just stayed in play and scored a fine try.
H&B grabbed their third try when Calvin Crosby-Clarke powered over following a catch and drive at a lineout - the first move he got involved in after coming on.
From that point onwards H&B pressed the home line in pursuit of a fourth try - and potentially two bonus points - but it wasn’t to be.