Having lost 43-15 at home to Heathfield in the Sussex Bob Rogers Cup on January 3, H&B went down 34-3 away to the same opponents in London Three South East on Saturday.
Having cancelled the weekend’s home fixtures due to waterlogged pitches, Hastings & Bexhill’s first XV travelled 20 miles to Heathfield to find a dry, but heavy underfoot, pitch, sun and far less wind.
Much of the match was played between the two 22-metre lines with H&B making the occasional foray into Heathfield’s red zone.
Unfortunately for H&B, however, it seemed that every time Heathfield got into the visiting red zone, they scored.
The H&B scrum was on song, mostly holding the bigger and heavier opposition in the set-piece, but the first Heathfield score came after eight minutes when slick hands along the line from a scrum provided an overlap and they scored in the corner. Conversion missed.
Only a crucial tackle by Elliot Parry stopped another score, but Heathfield’s second try came from a well-worked lineout move. The home side’s influential New Zealand seven took the ball cleanly and set up a driving maul which H&B could do nothing about and Heathfield walked the ball 20 metres across the line. Again the conversion was missed.
Heathfield attempted to run out of defence only to be penalised for obstruction and Tom Waring kicked the ensuing penalty, 10-3.
Just before the break, H&B were penalised for crossing. The resulting penalty was kicked deep, Heathfield won the lineout and moved the ball along the line. A change of the line of attack proved decisive and Heathfield went over for their third try, this time converted, for a 17-3 half time lead.
The second half produced 15 minutes of midfield battle before a lineout saw a quick pass off the top, quick hands and an easy try for Heathfield under the posts, 24-3.
H&B mounted several attacks with some good pick and goes, Rob McManus making good ground. Heathfield looked to run out of defence and exploit the narrow side, and this gave them their next score with a great blind side move and a try in the corner. Conversion missed.
Heathfield then camped in the H&B red zone for some time and only good defence kept them scoreless. After Joe Ward left the pitch with a dislocated thumb, Heathfield scored their final try with another blind side move from a quick tap penalty.
H&B: Ward, Foord-Paton, McDonough, Adams, R. McManus, A. Waring, Butler, S. McManus, Harbord, Steadman, Campbell, T. Waring, Crosby-Clarke, Parry, Haddock. Subs: Nichols, Jarvis, Sewell (not used).