With the start of the competitive season just 3x weeks away the Hastings Squad had a chance to put into action the hard work shown through pre season.
On a perfect afternoon for rugby the Hastings and Bexhill first XV started the game playing away from the clubhouse with a strong breeze behind them. With both teams looking to put there pre season work into action it was Hastings that had the best of the opening half of the game with the home teams try line not being tested. Even with Eastbourne line constantly under pressure, errors from the Hastings team along with aggressive physical defence from Eastbourne meant that the scores were even until close to half time when winger Ryan Foord received the ball 35m out and took a direct line cutting back in against defenders beating the last with a strong hand off to score close to the posts. Captain Bruce Steadman stepped up to add the extras. Unfortunately during the build up to the try Dan Suggitt was injured and had to replaced by Tom Waring. Unfortunately this wasnt to be the only injury to the Hastings team today with both Ryand Foord having to come off replaced by Tom Hirst and Joe Umpleby being replaced by Josh Clarke.
First half finished 7-0
During half time another change was made with Dom Sewell replacing Chris Butler, Luckily for the Hastings coaches none of these changes effected the way in which the team would be able to operate. The second half started with Hastings playing into what seemed to be an ever increasing breeze. With Eastbourne determined to get something from all of their hard work the Hastings line was under pressure with the talented Eastbourne fly half using a range of kicks to pin Hastings within their own half. It was the strength of running from the Eastbourne 10 which led to Eastbournes first score with some quick feet and strong running bullying his way over the white wash. Conversion was missed
This didnt effect the Hastings team and 10 minutes later Hastings extended there lead. Moving the ball from left to right some good hands from the back line released Cavlin Crosby-Clarke who straightened breaking the Eastbourne line using his strength and pace to fix the last defenders and put Sam Surridge in for another score. Unfortunately on this occasion Steadman couldnt add the extras.
Eastbourne had to react and they did through their dynamic 9 who after numerous favours saw a small gap and darted over for a try. Ther conversion wasnt missed this time and the scores were levelled. In previous seasons the Hastings team would have gone into there shells and tried holding onto the draw. This season it would seem that there is a different level of mental strength with Hastings regrouping and after numerous phases worked themselves into a food position with an attacking scrum. From the scrum and the within the last few minutes of the game Hastings managed to score from first phase with Archie Ridpath running a hard aggressive line finishing under the posts. Steadman missed the conversion.
Full time score 17-12
With the start if the season just 3x weeks away there will still be some things to work on in training but the Hastings coaches will happy with what they saw on the pitch this afternoon. A mention must be made to both Joe Whitehall-James and Chris Butler who both took the field for the Hastings first XV for the first time and both showed moments of why they both will be seen in the squad this season.
Next weekend sees a talented Helingly squad visit Hastings following there victory over Horsham 2nd XV 15-5 last weekend.