Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club overturned an early 13-point deficit to reach the London & SE Junior Vase quarter-finals.
Kent One side H&B recovered from a slow start to run out worthy 20-13 winners in a hard-fought third round tie away to Surrey One outfit Kingston on Saturday.
The pitch was dry and well-prepared, but the wind seriously affected the flow of the game. Passing, kicking and the lineout were hampered by the swirling conditions.
Playing 10-man rugby, Kingston started the game in a rush. The home fly-half put his forwards into a good position with his long accurate kicks.
After 20 minutes, H&B found themselves 13-0 behind and struggling to stay in the game. Kingston’s forwards had scored two unconverted tries and the fly-half had slotted over a penalty.
This was the wake-up call H&B’s forwards needed and they ground their way back into the game. John Hanagarth and Mark Piotrowski made some good runs from the base of the scrum, and the lineout started to work well, although the wind was making passing in the backs a precarious activity.
Just as the H&B forwards began to dominate their larger and more experienced opponents, the team had to be rejigged because Hanagarth had to leave the field with a wrist injury.
This change did not affect the team’s performance, and a driving scrum five metres out was collapsed by Kingston and the referee immediately awarded a penalty try. Harry Foster succeeded with the conversion.
H&B attacked again from the restart and after a concerted team effort, captain Jimmy Adams scored an unconverted try to cut the deficit to 13-12 at half time.
The second half was dominated by H&B. Calvin Crosby-Clarke and Chaz Ackerley were particularly noticeable for their hard running, and linking with Foster and Harry Walker. H&B took the lead with a well-struck Foster penalty.
Steve McManus was yellow carded and again the forwards had to be reorganised. Alex Waring, who had played very well, was sacrificed to bring on front row replacement Jacob McDonough.
Kingston really had no reply to H&B’s continuous attacking play except for resolute defending and the fly-half’s long boot.
H&B had two tries disallowed because the referee could not be certain the ball had been grounded, but they weren’t to be denied when Ben Campbell broke through to set up a good attacking ruck, Adams took the ball on and set up McDonough to score in the corner.
Kingston threw everything they had into attack for the last eight minutes, but H&B stood firm in defence. The performances of Crosby-Clarke and Ackerley had contributed a great deal to an excellent team display.
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