Uckfield Rugby Club finally ended their winless run on Saturday in a heated affair with Sussex rivals Eastbourne, whose first win of the year came last week against bottom-of-the-league Crawley.
With ex-Uckfield coach Rob Outen now in Eastbourne’s ranks and both sides needing a win, the game was made even more keenly anticipated.
Eastborne were on the scoreboard first with a penalty from in front of the posts. Uckfield responded with an unconverted try through captain Martin Chappell.
Eastbourne then missed a penalty shot but were given another attempt shortly after which they converted.
Despite losing Matt Evans to the sin bin on 25 minutes Uckfield did not allow Eastbourne to capitalise on the man advantage and the half time score remained 6-5 in Eastbourne’s favour.
Uckfield spent most of the first 20 minutes of the second half camped in Eastbourne’s 22 but couldn’t convert that pressure into points.
Uckfield then lost Colin Bradley to another 10 minute sin-bin after an off the ball incident in which the Eastbourne open side was very lucky that he was not seen by the referee.
In this 10 minute period, Uckfield missed a penalty and Eastbourne scored a well-worked try to extend their lead to 11-5.
But with 15 men back on the pitch, Uckfield struck back through an unconverted Rich Holman try to pull to within a point of their visitors.
Eastbourne missed another penalty attempt and, with two minutes left Uckfield were given a penalty 35 metres out. Despite missing his two conversion attempts, Phil Douse stepped up and put the ball between the uprights to put Uckfield 13-11 ahead.
The final whistle prompted an eruption of cheers amongst the Hempstead Fields spectators. The result moves Uckfield up two places in the league and leaves Eastbourne with a lot of work to do if they are to remain in the league
See this Friday’s Sussex Express for a full report on this game.