Leading 22-6 with 50 minutes gone, Lewes looked to have this game in the bag, but hosts Aylesford raised their game and kicked a penalty with a minute to go to win it 23-22 to cap a remarkable comeback.
The light early rain had enabled the visitors to attack through their effective back line, but as the rain became more torrential it was the Aylesford pack and their kicking game which finally won the day.
After soaking up some early pressure Lewes scored with their first foray into the home 22 - a good kick to the corner and a rolling maul ended with hooker Ed Sinclair touching down wide left.
Two well-take penalties repaired the damage for the hosts, but Lewes skipper Callum Armstrong scored another unconverted try, and the best try of the game from Drew Neist, converted by Josh Reid, put them 17-6 up at half time.
When Armstrong scored his second unconverted try after the break Lewes looked home and dry, but the hosts capitalised on a yellow card with two converted tries and a penalty on time saw Aylesford snatch a dramatic victory.
A depleted Lewes Seconds lost 45-0 away at Burgess Hill while Lewes Thirds was called off. Lewes First have a rest this weekend, the next game is a home derby with Heathfield on December 8.
After 50 minutes, with a lead of 6 – 22, Lewes looked to have this game in the bag. However, from then on, the home side raised their game and kicked a penalty one minute from time to finish off a remarkable comeback. Prior to this, the light rain had enabled the visitors to attack through their effective back line, but as the rain became more torrential it was the Aylesford pack and their kicking game which finally won the day.
After soaking up some early pressure, Lewes scored on almost their first foray into the home 22 – a good kick to the corner and a rolling maul ended with
hooker Ed Sinclair breaking free and touching down wide out. The conversion failed, and Aylesford quickly repaired the damage with two well-taken penalties from 30 metres out to lead 6 – 5. Another accurate kick to the corner allowed Lewes to engineer a further rolling maul with skipper Callum Armstrong coming up with the ball for an unconverted try to restore the visitors` lead at 6 – 10.
The Sussex outfit pulled further ahead five minutes before the break with the best try of the game: from their own 22, the backs` slick handling set winger Drew Neist free for a 50 metre sprint to the line. Centre Josh Reid added the extras to establish a 6 – 17 lead at half-time.
Superb driving by the Lewes forwards ten minutes into the second period produced a second, but unconverted, try for Armstrong, to make it 6 – 22, and at this point things looked rosy for the visitors. From this point on, however, the home side started to take control, and a yellow card against a Lewes player added to the Kent side`s advantage which they capitalised upon with a converted try from a maul to narrow the gap to 13 – 22.
As the weather deteriorated, Aylesford`s spirits seemed to rise and another converted try put them only two points in arrears at 20 – 22. Continued pressure told in the end, despite committed Lewes defence, when a penalty almost on time proved decisive at 23 – 22. A bitter disappointment for a highly-committed Lewes performance, especially as only one more successful conversion would have won them the match, and even the consolation of two bonus points could not prevent them from slipping down the League table to equal-third.
After the match, Head Coach Nigel Baker said;: “We played the best 50 minutes of rugby of the last 3 years, but we were not street-wise enough to adapt to the conditions to kill off the game”.
On Saturday, Lewes 1st`s have a rest from League duties, returning to the fray on 8th. December with a home derby against Heathfield and Waldron, k.o. 2.15pm.
Lewes 2nd`s visited Burgess Hill with a depleted squad, and paid the consequences in going down by 45 – 0. Lewes 3rd`s match at home to Hellingly fell victim to the weather.