Hastings & Bexhill 2nds 10 vs Heathfield & Waldron 3rds 48.
Heathfield 3rds secure a great 5 point win away to Hastings 2nds.
With the team on something of a winning streak, hopes were high that the Hastings 2nds Jinx would be laid to rest at last. From the off the team resumed from where it finished the previous week, but the forwards soon discovered that the Hastings pack would be a much harder proposition, despite this, early pressure was rewarded with a penalty; that was missed. However, from the resulting 22 Heathfield retained the ball, quickly shipped out by scrum half Jack Bayley, unleashing the backs, whose quick hands resulted in Julian Wates crossing the line for the first score, which was not converted. There followed an exchange of penalties, as both teams sought to gain the upper hand; Hastings starting to exert more pressure, but Heathfields scrambling defence held firm. Heathfiled again turned the ball over, shipped quickly through the backs, controlled by Brady Burdett, ending with Craig Austin-White going over for the second score, duly converted by Matt Skinner. Score 0-12.
Despite being behind Hastings did not give up, keeping up the pressure; Heathfield’s pack upped their game to maintain a good platform for the backs. Unfortunately Alex Lester, Jez Burdett and Ivan Downes had to retire injured, though there were sufficient replacements at this stage to cover the gaps. This forced re alignment must have unsettled Heathfield’s defence and a rather innocuous overhead kick was poorly dealt with; Hastings punished this lapse, resulting in their first score that was not converted. Score 5-12. Hastings main avenue of attack was through the fly half’s channel and while the back row did all they could to plug this, Brady Burdett was more than more once called on to make key tackles, but sadly for the team he suffered a blow to the head that resulted in him adding to the injury list. Paddy O’Harra, outside centre, stepped up to fly half for the rest of the game, bossing the forwards and running the backs to great effect.
There were no further scores in the first half, which ended with Heathfield on top. As the game resumed, Heathfiled had 2 quick scores, with Craig Austin-White going over for his second, converted by Matt Skinner, and Frazer Richards, standing his man up; then sprinting to the corner to take the score to 5-24, though not converted. This was followed by a good wide break by Julian Wates, converted by Matt Skinner, score 5-31. Though this gives the impression of a one side game, this is far from the truth. Hastings continued to press hard, but were thwarted by Heathfield’s committed defence, including a goal line stand finally cleared after Replacement Flanker Neil Burfield ripped the ball from the Hastings driving maul, quick support from the rest of the pack enabled the lines to be cleared. Replacements Matt Overy (wing) and Alex Ryde (2nd Row) made numerous strong runs and with their pace added valuable support in the attack, helping to stretch Hastings defence to breaking point. The next score started with Dan Ellis, clearing up well at the line, followed by a good backs move ending with Matt Skinner going over the line, which he also converted, score 5-38.
Seemingly well in control, Heathfiled lost concentration, allowing Hastings to round off a series of good hand offs with a score that was not converted, score 10-38. Again the injuries for Heathfiled mounted, with Nick Evans (prop) being replaced by Michael Powderly and Simon Hollingdale coming on at wing. A mention here must be made of Julian Porter, Paul Hookway and Ian Schlieder, who grafted in the set piece and the lose to provide quick ball for the backs, who’s attacking play was running Hastings defence ragged by this stage. Heathfields last two scores were not converted; the first resulted from a good backs moved, with Simon Hollingdale offloading to Matt Skinner to get his second and Jack Bayley running in the last try from a scrum. Final score 10-48.
It was hard to pick a man of the match, with so many good performances. Certainly Craig Austin-White at full back made some excellent runs, Julian Wates had a fine game at centre and Matt Skinner was everywhere however it was agreed that Dan Ellis had shown consistent commitment and leadership in the pack and was worthy of the award.
Match Report: Paul Hookway
Julian Porter, Dan Ellis, Nick Evens, Paul Hookway, Alex Lester, Matt Skinner, Ivan Downes, Ian Schlieder, Jack Bayley, Brady Burdett, Frazer Richards, Julian Wates, Paddy O'Hara, Jez Burdett, Craig Austin-White, Mike Powderly, Neil Burfield, Alex Ryde, Matt Overy, Simon Hollingdale