Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club made it two league wins out of two with a very good victory at home to Park House on Saturday.
The lead changed hands on several occasions before H&B scored the final two tries of the London Three South East fixture to run out 27-16 winners.
Fielding a squad showing five changes from the previous weekend’s emphatic victory over Bromley, former second XV captain Chris Pillow made his debut at hooker, Tom Vincent and Dom Sewell started, and Mike Clifford and Dan Suggitt were on the bench.
The opening quarter-of-an-hour was very evenly contested. Park House, who are the more experienced side at this level of rugby, fielded several big men in key positions and took the lead with a well-struck penalty awarded for not rolling away after the tackle.
Captain-for-the-day Bruce Steadman made an excellent break in the midfield to put Tom Waring away for the first H&B try. Fly-half Steadman duly converted, giving H&B a 7-3 lead.
Park House came back with a hotly disputed try. Their forwards appeared to knock on at least twice and then scored from an offside position, but the referee allowed the try to stand, giving the visitors an 8-7 advantage.
H&B regained the lead on the stroke of half time with another well-stuck penalty kick from Steadman, 10-8.
The second half opened with Park House in top gear. They rampaged through a resolute H&B defence to score an unconverted try in the left corner, 10-13.
Waring, who had an impressive game at outside centre, scored his second try of the day to give H&B a slender 15-13 lead.
As the game progressed, the wind increased, coming diagonally across the pitch. Park House used this to their advantage and pinned H&B in their own half for long periods, but the home side defended with determination.
A shoulder injury took Sewell out of the game and a minute later Chaz Ackerley had to leave the field with a very sore leg.
The referee made another disputed decision and sin-binned Waring for dangerous play, leaving H&B to play 10 of the last 15 minutes with only 14 men. Park House used their numerical advantage to take a 16-15 lead with another very well executed penalty.
Jake Stinson capped a good performance as he surged through the visitors’ defence from more than 30 metres out to score a good try, putting H&B back in front at 20-16.
One of the features of recent seasons has been the fitness of the H&B players and their ability to score points late in the game.
Mike Clifford took the ball from the base of a ruck and crashed over the line to score the bonus point fourth try. Steadman converted to give H&B a well-deserved victory.