THIS was a glorious day for running rugby and, fresh from their Plate triumph, Hellingly’s supporters were looking forward to a triumphant display, which they got in a 56-7 win over Uckfield 3rd XV.
Injuries and unavailabilities meant that the squad was depleted but, from the off, the pack and backs showed their dominance by winning a scrum against the head and passing down the line for an excellent (unconverted) score out wide by Charlie Milner.
The subsequent kick-off saw Phillip Ives take the ball high and pirouette through three tackles before linking with the backs to create a Matt Sands try, converted by David Searle to make the score 12-0 to Hellingly.
A succession of scrums then weakened an already crumbling Uckfield pack and Jack Smith pounced on the ball to beat the first defender and outstrip the defence for a fantastic solo try – his first in senior rugby and great reward for his seasons development (0-17 Hellingly). Further tries by Dave Sands, Paul Smith and Aaron McCulloch took the half time score to 46-0 to the away team. The team, however, were not performing as a unit and, with Hastings still hot on their heels, coach Nigel Gossedge uncharacteristically questioned his team’s performance and asked for greater urgency.
The second half, however, typified the day as a calamitous mix-up in midfield led to an Uckfield breakaway try.
But Milner, with a fearsome hand-off, gathered his brace and Tom Manktelow was finally given the pass to send him clear for a deserved score in the corner.
Further injuries to Uckfield led to uncontested scrums and the game fizzled out in a scrappy manner for a final score of 56-7 and a man of the match performance by Jack Smith for his tireless support play and line-out work.
Hellingly face first Hove away then Hastings over the next fortnight in contests that will decide the league – and, whilst favourites, Hellingly will need to get back to the type of performances that saw them win the Sussex Plate against higher league opposition.