Cliffe Crusaders 3, Hastings & Bexhill 27

By Peter Knight

As the teams lined up at Cliffe Crusaders’ Rochester ground last Saturday for the one minute’s silence to remember those killed in war, the home side, Kent League newcomers, looked to be a team of big strong men. But Hastings & Bexhill took an early lead, and then withstood a great deal of pressure from their hosts before finishing the game with a flourish of three late tries.

Coach Ben Davies welcomed Nick Van-Herpen and Calvin Crosby-Clarke back into his squad and gave new signing Ronnie Dorey-Palmer a start on the wing. Sam Surridge and Tom Jones filled the vital 9-10 partnership satisfactorily to give the attack a solid base.

Tom Waring gave the visitors an early lead with a well-struck penalty, awarded for offside. Hastings had put the home side under pressure from the kick-off, and the three points were a just reward. Winger Tim Sills then touched down to complete an excellent cross-field move through the backs after Surridge had made a good break from the base of the scrum. At half time, despite the home side making them work very hard, H&B were in a well-deserved 8-0 lead.

Crosby-Clarke came on for Van-Herpen and Steve McManus replaced prop Tom Vincent, who had suffered a knock to his knee. Cliffe reduced the lead with a penalty, and were beginning to wear the H&B defence down. But the best form of defence is to attack, and Hastings hit them with three well-taken tries to seal a bonus point win.

The first came from Archie Ridpath, capitalising on a tremendous break by Crosby-Clarke, who was playing an inspiring game in the second row.

Jones was swapped for Louis Sealy at fly half but this did not hinder the flow of the game. Centre Waring took advantage of a gap in the Cliffe defence to surge through and score under the posts. Surridge added the extras with the straightforward conversion.

Crosby-Clarke scored the bonus point try, bursting off the side of a ruck to leave the home defence standing. Waring converted to leave H&B the clear winners 27-3.

Next week H&B entertain sponsors and friends of the club to lunch before the home league game against HSBC. The 2nd XV also play at home versus Faversham. Both games kick off at 2:30pm at the Ark Alexandra Academy (former William Parker site). Spectators are welcome.

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