In their final League game of the season, a much-changed Lewes side went down fighting away to local rivals, mid-table Crowborough, but even the well-earned losing bonus point for scoring 4 tries could not save them from relegation to London 3 South East for next season.
Things stared badly for the visitors as they succumbed to an unconverted try after only 3 minutes from Crowborough’s No.8. The next 20 minutes, however, saw both sides evenly-matched, although as might be expected from a game in which the result meant little, there were many unforced errors from all concerned, and the whole quality of the match was not, as a result, of a very high standard.
The hosts ended the deadlock on 24 minutes as they broke away from an error during a Lewes attack, enabling their open-side flanker to score out left, the conversion by Crowborough’s full-back making it 12 – 0. The home side’s tight-head prop-forward was then yellow-carded for persistent offside, and this let Lewes back into the game on the half-hour, winning good line-out ball and, in a called blind-side move, No.8 Matt Ridley scored a fine but unconverted try in the right corner to narrow the difference to 12 – 5.
But Crowborough took advantage of their return to 15 men with a push-over, unconverted try after 37 minutes, the second from their No.8, for a 17 – 5 lead which they took into the break.
The second half began with a good drive from Lewes to their opponent’s line ending with right-winger Mike Smith touching down for Lewe’s second try, outside-half Jon Pitt’s conversion seeing his side narrow the gap to
17 – 12. But 5 minutes later Crowborough restored the advantage with their fourth, bonus-point try from their outside centre, converted by their full-back, to make it 24 – 12. Play was then disrupted for over half-an-hour due to a serious injury to a Crowborough player and after the re-start, the home side pulled further ahead at 29 – 12 with an unconverted try from their outside-centre.
The same player was then immediately yellow-carded for a foul tackle, and this enabled Lewes to hit straight back with an individual try from Pitts, who fly-chipped through the hosts’ defence for a try near the posts, which he also converted, to make it 29 – 19. Another defensive error by Lewes saw Crowborough’s outside-centre intercept the ball for his second try, converted by No. 15, to stretch away again at 36 – 19. But Lewes never gave up the fight, finishing the stronger with the final try of the match just before the whistle from inside-centre Lenny Van Der Velde, which Pitts converted, to end the match at 36 – 26.
Lewes: Williams, Hipwell, Fallbrown, Gorbell (Capt.), Brant, McAleer, Ridley, Slaymaker, McGlynn, Pitts, Smith, Van Der Velde, Shiel, Carter, Lloyd. (Rep. used: Robertson)
Lewes 2nd’s also went down fighting away to Seaford 1st’s with a 32 – 22 defeat in a game in which all Lewes players did themselves proud.