Although H&B are two points behind Cranbrook in the race for second place and a promotion play-off, Cranbrook would appear to have the harder run-in with five games remaining.
A quick tap penalty wrong-footed a defender, and Cranbrook were in under the posts, conversion missed. H&B closed the score to 3-5 when accurate backs’ passing led to a penalty, kicked by Tom Waring.
With Ben Campbell yellow carded, Cranbrook converted a penalty, and minutes later exploited their man advantage with a try in the corner, 3-13.
H&B fought back when their scrum drove over for Chris Stern to score, Waring converting, 10-13.
Only a desperate tackle on the line by Waring prevented a further Cranbrook try on half time. Within five minutes of the restart, H&B were driving the ball towards Cranbrook’s line, Matt Harbord diving over for the score, Waring converting, for a 17-13 lead.
From a Cranbrook scrum on their own line, their dangerous eight broke, Jason Holewell hammered him into touch, Joe Umpleby’s short throw found Anthony Roche, who drove over for a 22-13 lead, 10 minutes left.
Cranbrook kicked a penalty, 22-16. H&B missed a penalty kick. Cranbrook launched an all-out attack down the left wing for a try in the corner, but the ensuing kick went wide and H&B held on.
Elsewhere, Rye Rugby Club lost 41-14 away to Holbrook in Sussex One. Fourth-bottom Rye now trail their conquerors by six points with a game in hand. See Friday’s Observers for full reports on both matches.