It had to happen - 12 months without losing in cup or league has made Hellingly used to producing victory when short of key players.
This away at Horley on Saturday was a game too far as they slumped to a 46-17 defeat. Facing a strong pack and a pitch ready to be used for bog snorkelling the frailness in the pack could not be hidden by brilliance in the backs.
The game started with Horley in the ascendancy as Hellingly made their adjustments and approached parity in the tight with Horley.
The Hellingly defence was rock solid with James Sands shining with his quality of tackling from turnover ball the play moved to Dave Sands who evaded the close attention of two before striking for the line, with 20m to go Horley closed him down and stretching he made the score with two tacklers alongside.
Horley finally made their weight tell and scored in the corner. Hellingly’s riposte under pressure saw Ian Padgett moved the ball to Tom Stone who, from inside the 22 outstripped and then stepped the defence for a second try and a 14-5 lead.
Horley mauled their way to Hellingly’s line for their second try, and then came strong again with five to play before half time. Sam Barrat though played a pivotal role in holding up the opposition forwards and made a try saving tackle only to seriously injure himself with a dislocated shoulder that required hospital treatment.
With the rain fully torrential both sides returned to the changing rooms for the 30 minutes it took to get the game restarted. The interval proved the turning point as Horley came back re-energised, scoring under the posts for a 17-14 lead at half time.
Hellingly levelled at 17-17 with a penalty, but from there Horley were allowed into their half almost at will to score a desperate five tries and return a 46-17 win.
Man of the match was Sam Barrat for providing the stability to the pack that was exposed when he was hospitalised.
For all the rest of the week’s rugby reports, pick you your copy of the Sussex Express, out on Friday.