Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club’s survival hopes suffered a setback with a 41-17 defeat in a tough contest away to Old Dunstonians on Saturday.
H&B remain second-from-bottom of London Three South East and are three points below third-from-bottom Bromley with two games remaining.
H&B travelled to Beckenham for this vital fixture with a virtually unchanged squad from the previous weekend’s win over Bromley. Only Archie Ridpath was unavailable so Ryan Foord came in at full-back and Tom Waring started in the centre.
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Old Dunstonians are a strong side with some very big forwards and they totally dominated the first half. Their forwards pushed the H&B pack off the ball and set their backs free to run in four good tries, three of which were converted, making the half time score 26-0.
H&B coach Ben Davies made several changes in personnel during the interval. Steve McManus came on at prop for the hard-working Chris Geary, the fit-again Isaac Wales played flanker with Calvin Crosby-Clarke moving to second row for Alex Waring.
Foord was badly shaken in a heavy tackle and had to leave the pitch, while Jake Stinson moved to full-back and Sam Surridge put in a good second half performance on the wing.
These alterations put some spring into the H&B step and they raised their game considerably. H&B scored three tries to the opposition’s two and matched or outplayed their opposite number throughout the second period.
Wales received a great pass from Crosby-Clarke and crashed over the line near the posts for Waring to convert. H&B upped their pressure on the home defence and Bruce Steadman burst through the line to reduce the deficit to only 14 points with a well-taken try.
Steadman also featured in the try of the game. He put up a great crossfield kick into space on the left wing, and Tim Sills raced onto and gathered the ball for H&B’s third try.
Dunstonians came back, and scored two more tries and a penalty of their own. As hard as H&B tried, they were unable to score the bonus point fourth try and Dunstonians ran out worthy winners.
H&B are at home to fourth-from-bottom Park House this coming Saturday in a game they must win to have any chance of avoiding relegation. Kick-off at Ark William Parker Academy is 3pm.