London 2 South East: Lewes 44 Warlingham 5
Lewes gained revenge for their heavy away drumming against the same side away in October with a seven-try, bonus-point drubbing of their Surrey opponents which keeps the Sussex outfit in third place in the League table.
On a sunny day at a somewhat tacky Stanley Turner Ground, Lewes – having to play in red shirts due to a clash of colours – confined the opposition to within their own half for the first five minutes, and this pressure was rewarded four minutes later with a penalty on the 22 metre line which inside centre Josh Reid slotted over to open the scoring at 3-0.
Two minutes later, a good run deep inside Warlingham’s defence enabled outside centre Josh McGlynn to crash through the line for the opening try under the posts, Reid’s conversion extending the lead to 10-0.
Warlingham hit back on the first quarter of the match, their inside centre Mark Kozminski kicking a penalty after Lewes were penalised for offside, reducing the arrears 10-3. The visitors were now getting more into the game with strong forward drives, but on 26 minutes Lewes turned this round with a stunning 75 metre move upfield, finished off by McGlynn under the posts, Reid adding the extras to restore the gap at 17-3.
Three minutes later, this became 22–3, another great move involving both forwards and backs ending with right-wing Sam Jones touching down in the right-hand corner for an unconverted try to stretch the advantage.
Warlingham responded from the re-start, a strong move towards the Lewes line being rewarded when their prop-forward Kieran Scutt scored out left for an unconverted try to make it 22-8.
But Lewes went further ahead just before the half-time whistle, skipper Callum Armstrong scoring his side’s bonus-point, but unconverted, fourth try set up by another strong attack after the visitors were penalised for offside, 27-8 to the home outfit.
Lewes started the started the second half just as they had finished the first, a big push upfield on 42 minutes being rounded off with Armstrong’s second try, Reid kicking over the conversion to see his side pull away at 34-8.
On 55 minutes, flanker Dave Weir`s unconverted try after a rolling maul saw Lewes pull further ahead at 39-8, but then – following Armstrong’s sin-binning – Warlingham took advantage of Lewes’ reduced numbers in the pack to shove to the line where their scrum-half Steven Murter touched down for a try, Kozminski’s conversion making the score 39-15.
But Lewes – in spite of conceding a number of penalties over the next few minutes – managed to hold out until Armstrong returned to the field, and just before the end he was rewarded with his hat-trick try out wide on the right. Although the conversion was missed, Lewes ended a fine performance with a deserved 44-15 victory which keeps them in with a chance of maintaining a push for promotion.
Head Coach Nigel Baker said after the match: “At last we played to the conditions and proved that we can adapt as circumstances dictate.”
Lewes: Williams, Morrison, Dean, Brant, Gorbell, Were, Armstrong (Capt.), Gribble, Ward, Marsh, Jones, Reid, McGlynn, D. Neist, Hodson (reps., all used: Sayers, Ridley, S.Neist. Ref: Nick Dolney, SE Federation; Ball-boy: James Durrant).
On Saturday, Lewes make the short trip to Crowborough, k.o. 2.30pm, in a vital match against the fourth-placed team, the outcome of which could determine the race for honours at the end of the season.
Lewes 2nd XV’s match fell victim to the weather, but the 3rds’ managed to play their friendly at Seaford against the home side’s 2nd XV, losing narrowly by 12-5, Lewes’ solitary try being scored by inside-centre Gareth Pond.