Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club conceded a late try to be narrowly beaten in its opening league game of the season.
H&B lost 29-24 in a Kent One fixture at home to Old Williamsonians on Saturday which they led virtually all the way.
On a beautiful September afternoon and a very well-prepared surface, the opening minutes were keenly-fought before H&B broke through with a fine backs move from one side of the pitch to the other which resulted in Tim Sills scoring a try wide out on the left.
The try was converted by Harry Foster, who has taken over the kicking duties after the departure of Tom Waring to Maidstone RFC.
OW’s replied with a well-worked unconverted try on their left to cut their deficit to 7-5 after a quarter of an hour, but Elliot Parry swiftly jinked his way through the away defence to score an excellent try under the posts after continuous H&B forward pressure. Foster duly converted.
The H&B forwards were in control of the game, thanks in part to the sterling efforts of Calvin Crosby-Clarke on his debut in the second row having spent the last two seasons on the wing!
Williamsonians kicked a penalty given for offside by one of the H&B centres, but H&B fly-half Kit Claughton led a great break in the backs, putting Harry Walker in for a try which was again converted by Foster, who was successful with all but one of his attempts at goal in the first half.
One of the OW centres was sin-binned for a high tackle and H&B’s lead was increased to 24-8. The visitors scored a crucial converted try on the stroke of half time which cut H&B’s advantage to 24-15.
The second half started with OW’s on the front foot and H&B soaking up a lot of pressure. This pressure led to mistakes and then a yellow card for Chris Stern. During his absence, the OW tight head prop scored a try which was converted, bringing them within two points at 24-22.
Even the introduction of former H&B captain Paul Sandeman could not stem the tide and the yellow carding of scrum-half Parry for a high tackle in the 65th minute didn’t help.
H&B were hanging on grimly until the 77th minute when OW’s scored a converted try to run out 29-24 winners.
“It was very much a game we should’ve won,” said H&B head coach Chris Brooks. “I think there’s no doubt we were rusty in a couple of departments, but the energy rates were high, we were hitting our tackling targets and we were playing as we said we would, which was recycling quickly from the base of the ruck and getting it wide.
“We took our foot off the gas in the second half, the energy levels seemed to drop and we weren’t defending as wide as we should’ve been doing.”
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