Four Points from our travels to Hastings.
After a hard fought afternoon down on the coast in some changing conditions.......
Match report by Rick Howe.
This was a welcome return to hostilities between these two sides, who have not met for several seasons.
Crowborough have had well documented selection dilemmas since to start of the season, but welcomed back four starting selections this week, but with limited game time the question was always going to be would the side be able to gel quickly enough.
Hastings on the other hand have had several seasons regrouping with a settled squad, performing well, but somewhat under the radar in the Kent leagues, before returning this season to the London League.
They have started the season well with victories over Bromley, Park House and Crawley leaving them in fourth place, a tantalizing 4 points ahead of Crowborough who have a game in hand. After last week’s defeat to Aylesford it was imperative that ‘Boro got back to winning ways on Saturday and put their season back on track.
In the end the difference between the sides on the score sheet, was the unerringly accurate boot of Chris Yates, with 13 points scored in a blustery channel wind.
However that would do a disservice to both sides who, in not ideal conditions, endeavoured to gain the upper hand, with both packs contesting every 50:50 ball, tackling everything that moved and in swiftly getting to the break downs, prevented quick clean ball for their backs.
With fifteen minutes gone Yates had two penalties to his name, and Andy Walters, making a welcome return after almost a year on the side lines, appeared to be making up for lost time with a haul of crunching and telling tackles, whilst also making a thorough nuisance of himself, disrupting quick Hastings ball.
However Hastings are a good side and will be there or there abouts at the end of the season, and with a well drilled set of backs proceeded to show why they achieved promotion in their last campaign, with a well worked if not over telegraphed try, when the left wing latched onto the “requested” crash ball, at speed, taking advantage of some ineffective attempted tackles to score under the posts, that the #10 converted. 7-6
After the break, ‘Boro played with the wind on their backs, and with the mercurial Charlie Butler coming onto the left wing the expectant travelling faithful looked forward to the contest moving up a notch.
Tom West and Chris Yates combined well, with Yates using the wind to give Charlie Butler something to chase, and on several occasions he put the Hastings defence under intense pressure with rushed inaccurate clearances.
However it was the ‘Boro pack whose vision was more controlled, and once they arrived at the Hastings 22, a scrum some 10 metres out was set, before an impressive drive to within three metres was illegally disrupted by Hastings. Encouraged by the drive ‘Boro opted for a reset scrum, and this time drove to the line where #8 Charlie Stanton, who had made an impressive start, controlled the ball at the back before picking up to drive over, with Chris Yates adding the 2 points. 7-13.
The next score would be crucial, and with Charlie Butler roaming the field looking for opportunities, he must have been frustrated when on several occasions, with space in front of him, the pass was eschewed in favour of the impossible inside break, wasting what was becoming limited quality ball. It was left to the pack, who with success ten minutes earlier proceeded to camp in the Hastings 22, and with Charlie Stanton again controlling the ball at the back, Tom West picked up to dot the ball down, with the metronomic Chris Yates adding the 2 points.7-20
Hastings brought on their huge replacement prop, and tall rangy winger who were to have a massive impact in the remaining fifteen minutes. With Tom West retiring hurt, Dan Moore took on the #9 responsibility and Mark Rosier took up his front row duties once more.
Having had success earlier in the half with the non-too subtle crash ball through the middle, Hastings had little to lose in giving it another go, and with the replacement prop latching onto an inside ball, and with two defenders coming across much too quickly, it made it all too simple for the him to step inside and target the weak inside shoulder. Brushing off the attempted tackles he showed a surprising turn of speed to gallop thirty metres and score under the posts for a converted try that kept them in touch with a draw or at a minimum, a losing bonus point which would not be in ‘Boros interest . 14-20
As it turned out Chris Yates took the maths out of the equation with a final penalty that saw the game come to an end, with Andy Walters confirmed as Man of the Match and put ‘Boros’ season back on track, leaving them in fifth place one point behind Hastings.
The Final score being 14-23
Crowborough’s next outing will be in two weeks’ time against 2nd placed Bromley where a positive result will be eagerly anticipated.