Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club felt the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game as it was beaten 51-17 away to high-flying Pulborough on Saturday.
H&B considered themselves the equal of Pulborough in every department and at times dominated play in the London Three South East fixture, but couldn’t turn this advantage into points.
The first half was hard-fought, and although Pulborough scored four tries and a penalty to lead 29-17 at the break, H&B scored two tries of their own and were very much part of the game.
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The visitors opened the scoring with a well-taken penalty from Tom Waring and continued to put the home defence under a great deal of pressure.
Both sides were awarded penalty tries. Pulborough’s was the result of the H&B defence collapsing a maul, while at the other end, a handling error from the home backs was adjudged to be a deliberate knock on.
Frazer McManus scored a well-worked forwards’ try from the base of a five-metre scrum and Bruce Steadman converted.
The second half began with H&B in the ascendancy, but they were unable to turn pressure into points against a well-organised and very fit Pulborough side.
Tom Vincent replaced Nick van Herpen, Ben Campbell came on for Tim Sills and Adam Parkhouse swapped with Dom Sewell in the second row, but the changes did not have the desired affect.
As the second half wore on, Pulborough held their ground and then produced a late flourish to score three more tries and a penalty, making the final score rather flattering.
Adam Baker started in the back row for the first time this season and had an impressive game. Van Herpen came in to the front row and worked hard throughout, despite being yellow carded for handling the ball in a ruck.
There were plenty of positives for the H&B management to reflect on. The good performances from Baker, Tom Vincent, Roger Roberts and McManus could have brought a closer scoreline, but lady luck was not on their side.
H&B: S. McManus, Umpleby, Van Herpen, Sewell, Crosby-Clarke, Baker, Roberts, F. McManus, Shaw, Steadman, Stinson, Suggitt, Waring, Sills, Maltby. Replacements: Vincent, Parkhouse, Campbell.
H&B are ninth in the 12-team division and the away fixture against eighth-placed Bromley this coming Saturday has become even more important.