Hastings and Bexhill 17, Bromley 6

By Peter Knight

The upper slopes of Ark William Parker playing fields, often a different climate zone from the rest of Hastings, caught the fringes of Storm Freya last Saturday. But for H & B it’s home territory, and the cross-field wind that made kicking something of a lottery whichever way the team was facing is not so strange up there. There were excellent performances from every member of the team, running, tackling and competing for the ball for the full 80 minutes. They scored three tries, conceded none, and secured a vital win in the battle to stay in the London & South-East League for another season. 

H&B (in blue-and-white) in action aganst Bromley
PICTURE: Peter Knight

From the start, H & B took control. Bruce Steadman opened the scoring with a try after only two minutes of play, and this was the first of many attacking moves that caused problems for a very physical Bromley defence. Roger Roberts increased the lead with a well-executed try under the posts following great work from the home pack. Tom Waring was successful with the straightforward conversion to put H&B twelve points ahead.Bromley came back with two penalties to make the half time score 12-6. 

The second half was a hard-fought affair. Isaac Wales had to leave the pitch with a shoulder injury, replaced by Alex Waring. Prop Tomas Vincent was injured in an accidental collision with one of his team mates. But coach Ben Davies used his impact players well, and the big hard-working forwards benefited from rests provided by his rotation system.At times, the physicality boiled up into fisticuffs. An affray involving almost every player on the pitch resulted in four yellow cards: Tom Waring and Dan Suggitt of H & B and two Bromley players were sin-binned for their contributions to the chaos.But H&B continued to hold their own with Archie Ridpath figuring in many of the combination moves that gave wingers Jake Stinson and Tim Sills plenty of ball. Stinson crossed the whitewash late on to complete the scoring and give the home side a very satisfying win.H&B are not yet clear of relegation worries. They have only three games left. Two are away at Beckenham sides Old Dunstonians and Beccehamian, both of whom defeated them in the reverse fixtures at Hastings earlier in the season. The third is a home match against Park House in a couple of weeks’ time. They might have expected to win this in normal circumstances, but a late re-arrangement of the fixture will leave the team significantly weakened for that encounter. However, with Hellingly scratched from the league and Lewes now six points below H &B in the table and without a win since November, they can back themselves to survive. 

H&B’s winning performance on the pitch followed a very successful fund-raising lunch in the clubhouse. The object was sponsorship of Hastings residents Roger and Lesley Davies, participating in the LMAX Wooden Spoon Challenge to set a world record for the highest ever game of rugby. They will set off in April to trek to the Advanced Base Camp on Mount Everest to play two matches at over 6,500 metres.

The club entertained Hastings Deputy Mayor James Bacon, its sponsors, officials from Sussex RFU, the Bromley committee and representatives of Sussex Wooden Spoon, a rugby charity established to help disadvantaged children and young
people. A ball autographed by rugby legend Willie John McBride
was auctioned to complete various fund-raising activities
during the very enjoyable and successful occasion.
A total of £850 was collected.

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