H&B suffer heaviest defeat in Crowborough mudbath

Hastings & Bexhill scrum-half Eliot Parry feeds the ball out to Steve McManus during the defeat at Crowborough. Picture courtesy Peter Knight
Hastings & Bexhill scrum-half Eliot Parry feeds the ball out to Steve McManus during the defeat at Crowborough. Picture courtesy Peter Knight

Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club suffered comfortably its heaviest league defeat of the season on a miserable Saturday afternoon for the players and their faithful supporters.

H&B lost 33-0 away to Crowborough in a London Three South East fixture played in continuous drizzle and on a very heavy and slippery pitch.

The home side opened the scoring with its first fortunate try of the afternoon. An intercepted pass at the base of the scrum gave the fly-half the easiest of runs to the line to touch down under the posts, leaving the kicker a straightforward conversion.

Crowborough’s second try was equally lucky. H&B full-back Tom Waring’s clearance was charged down by the advancing Crowborough pack, which bundled the ball over the line in the corner.

H&B’s misfortune continued when Jacob McDonough was yellow carded for an offence which looked far worse than it actually was. The prop slipped as he went into contact and his flailing arm caught an opposing player in the head, although the referee felt he was grabbing at the face.

Dan Suggitt was sacrificed to allow Anthony Roche to come on as replacement prop and Crowborough capitalised on their man advantage by scoring another converted try to make the half time score 19-0.

The second half continued in the same pattern with the Crowborough pack dominating the play and having more than their fair share of the good fortune. The hosts scored the bonus point fourth try from a pushover; the H&B forwards sliding several metres backwards in the mud to give Crowborough’s number eight the touchdown.

H&B fly-half, and captain-for-the-day (with regular skipper Joe Umpleby unavailable), Bruce Steadman had to be helped from the pitch in a rather groggy state.

Head coach Chris Brooks had to reorganise his back line. Stash Maltby came on at full-back, Sam Surridge went on to the wing and Waring moved into the centre, with Suggitt making a good fist of covering at fly-half. Calvin Crosby-Clarke came on to boost the scrum.

Nobody can criticise H&B for a lack of effort, but on the day they simply weren’t good enough and Lady Luck was smiling on Crowborough.

The home side scored its third fortuitous try of the day when a 22-metre H&B drop out was sliced and the Crowborough centre leaped on the loose ball before running through the line to score under the posts, leaving another simple kick to complete the scoring.

H&B lost the game to a well-organised and strong Crowborough side which moved a place above them in the league table. The home team adapted to the conditions and made the most of its opportunities.