Eastbourne’s commercial manager Steve Knott was justifiably pleased with the pre match lunch and associated celebrations; on the pitch however it was a different story as Heathfield showed a lucklustre Eastbourne a very clean pair of heels.
The visitors dominated most aspects of play and could have been mistaken for being the home side, so confident did they appear. Eastbourne on the other hand, did themselves no favours; they lost the penalty count by a ratio of 5-1 and in difficult conditions, the ball so often appeared to spill from hand.
Heathfield won an important toss and decided to play against the deteriorating conditions, a move that made it easier for them in the second half. The first 20 minutes was purely attritional, the only score being a penalty to the Blue & Golds kicked by Ben Barter. When prop Josh Imich lost his binding in the scrum he was penalised and sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes; a decision that appeared to be harsh at the time particularly as during the yellow card period, the Heathfield scrum- half spotted a gap in the home defence and skipped round for the softest of tries. At 3-7 down, and in good conditions, Eastbourne might have responded. But the gale grew stronger and incessant rain fell, all to the advantage of the visitors. Five points came from a rolling maul early on but the coup de grace for the Blue & Golds was delivered by the Heathfield No.8 Ollie Robertshaw who picked up at the base of an attacking scrum and bullocked his way over the line.
Leading 3-17, the visitors had the game won but they did not relax one iota. First their captain took the ball at pace and smashed the Eastbourne defence; then in the last minutes a penalty was tapped and the ball whipped across the line for a fine winger`s try in the corner. The result - five tries to none - was justifiably deserved and Eastbourne have slipped two places in the table as a consequence. With high flying Bromley to follow, the team will need to regroup and regain previous form.
Team: Imich, Sinclair, Webb, Mottram, Farley, Redman, Grey, Cousins, Pysden, Mackay, Stevenson, King, N. Clarke, Smith, Barter, Hiremutt, Goldsmith, van Bentham.
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