Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club narrowly missed out on a place in the Sussex Shield semi-finals despite a valiant comeback.
H&B were narrowly beaten 32-27 away to Bognor after almost clawing their way back from a 19-0 deficit in the opening quarter of Saturday’s quarter-final.
The visitors actually scored five tries to Bognor’s four, but Bognor’s three conversions and two penalties to H&B’s solitary conversion proved decisive in the final analysis.
A very big Bognor side which finished second in Hampshire One made a fast start against an H&B team which came fifth in Kent One, using their large forward runners to good effect in scoring three tries, two of which were converted, during the opening 20 minutes.
H&B gradually started to get a foothold in the game, though, and Tim Sills and Ben Campbell had plenty of joy when they moved the ball wide.
Bognor’s full-back was yellow carded for a high tackle on Harry Walker near the line and H&B capitalised with a pair of tries to cut their deficit to 19-12 at half time.
Calvin Crosby-Clarke scored a try in the corner, which was very well converted by Bruce Steadman, and Mark Piotroswki went over just before the break.
In the second half, Bognor kicked a couple of penalties, but H&B responded with a close range try from Piotrowski. Although Bognor went further ahead with a try by the posts, their ill-discipline helped keep H&B in with a chance.
Bognor accrued five yellow cards in total and ended the match with 13 men. H&B took advantage with an Anthony Roche try from a nice lineout move and a subsequent try by Sills at the end of a well-executed backs’ move.
That cut H&B’s deficit to five points with a minute to go and they almost conjured up a potentially match-winning score when Walker was whiskers away from intercepting a Bognor pass.
Everyone contributed from an H&B perspective, but Sills was outstanding, Campbell had a really sharp game, Crosby-Clarke was impressive, half-backs Eliot Parry and Steadman controlled the game well, and the front row of Roche, Joe Umpleby and Jacob McDonough performed well against large opponents.
H&B backs’ coach Kit Claughton said: “They were getting frustrated, but they were a good outfit and even when they were down to 13 men, as much as we were brave and gallant, they really dug in deep to stop us scoring that match-winning try.
“We have to be a bit more accurate and a bit more composed in the final third, and we have to somehow stop bigger teams from bullying us, but the never-say-die attitude is there and I think there’s a feeling of slight disappointment the season’s finished.”
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