LEWES’ travels on the road this season have been rewarded with limited success, so this 37-5 away win over Warlingham in London 2 SE was a heart-warming result which lifted the Sussex side one position higher in the league table.
Hosts Warlingham’s form in recent weeks has been consistently good but they were outplayed in all phases in this match, conceding six tries, with Lewes right-winger John Smith grabbing a hat-trick.
The first few minutes, however, belonged to the home side as their forwards took the game to Lewes and, although awarded a penalty for an offence at a ruck, they failed to take the opportunity for an early lead.
They were then punished themselves in the 13th minute when the visitors pulled of a perfect set move down the blind side: No 8 Callum Armstrong picking up the ball before feeding it to scrum-half Charlie Terry, who then passed out to full-back Matty Hodson, who himself sent over winger John Smith for the opening try in the corner.
Centre Jon Pitts failed to convert, but was successful three minutes later with a fine penalty kick, in the face of a stiff breeze, to see his side open up an 8-0 lead.
Warlingham immediately took play back into the Lewes half, but then botched a blind-side move.
This enabled flanker Tom Tudor to emerge with the ball before sprinting 60 metres to score in the corner for a 10-0 advantage.
Terry was then injured on 25 minutes, resulting in centre Will Bell moving to scrum-half and Colts player Henry Shiel coming on to take over in the centre.
In spite of these changes, Lewes’ play continued to impress, and it took them only another three minutes to increase their lead.
Another breakaway – this time by Pitts – was stopped just short of the line, but quick ball allowed Smith to bag his second try in the right hand corner.
Pitts missed the conversion, but scored another simple penalty just before the break to give the visitors an 18-0 half-time lead.
With Lewes quickly exerting pressure early in the second half, the game was put beyond doubt as Armstrong used quick ruck ball to feed Hodson who again sent over Smith, this time for his hat-trick try, converted by Pitts to stretch the Sussex side’s lead to 25-0.
With the back five of Chris Brant, Matt Ridley, Ben Hamer, Armstrong and Tudor now getting on top of their opponents, and dominating the loose, the back-line were able to use the ball to good effect, with another try soon on the cards.
Once again, good ruck ball in front of the posts was Warlingham’s undoing, as fly-half Marty Campbell dummied his way through to score under the posts, Pitts adding the extras to see Lewes pull away at 32-0.
Lewes continued to spread the ball but were denied by some good home defence – until the 70th minute, a moment which produced the best try of the match.
From a line-out on half-way, a break by Campbell was carried on by Pitts and then Shiel to release left-wing Ryan Byrne for a great, but unconverted, try in the corner to see Lewes hit 37 points.
Warlingham finally got some reward for their industry when, in the final minute of the match, their full-back Jock McEvoy scored out wide left for their only, unconverted try to make the final score 37-5.
The result puts Lewes up one place to sixth in the table.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Lewes 1st XV are without a game, their previously re-arranged match at home to Aylesford Bulls being postponed by the League until April 7.
Their next home encounter will therefore be on Saturday, March 24 at home to Old Dunstonians, kick off 3pm.
LEWES: Dean, Stechler (Edmondson), Blunt, Brant, Ridley, Armstrong (Capt.), Hamer, Tudor, Terry (Shiel/Sharp),Campbell, Byrne, Pitts, Bell, Smith, Hodson.