ON a fine and sunny day, and in front of large crowd, Lewes ended their season last Saturday by drubbing relegation candidates Purley, scoring 15 tries and 14 conversions in the process of racking up a record League score for the home club.
Unfortunately, Lewes’ nearest rivals, Aylesford Bulls, also picked up a bonus point in their win against Deal, thereby securing the runner-up play-off spot, but Lewes’ creditable third place is a fair reflection of the quality of rugby they have played this year.
It took the hosts just two minutes to get on the score-sheet. Following an early midfield break from right-winger, Matt Hodson, passed the ball out for full-back Sam Hutchinson to touch down. Six minutes later, a strong forward drive on halfway ended with the ball going out to Hodson, who kicked ahead for lock forward Rob Wynne for the second try. Both tries were converted by Jon Pitts to make the score 14-0.
On 11 minutes, this became 19-0 when left-winger Nick Sharp ended a move from a line-out for a fine if unconverted try. Lewes’ fourth, bonus-point, try came after 18 minutes, flanker Jack Nayler picking up a loose ball in the centre of the pitch and then storming fully 40 metres for a great try under the posts, Pitts’s conversion stretching the lead to 26-0.
Lewes were now clearly on top in all phases, dominating possession and territory which enabled them continue to score at will. In the run-up to half-time, scrum-half Will Bell added two more tries, with Nayler also touching down for another two to complete his hat-trick. Pitts kicked all four conversions, to see his side go in with a unassailable 54-0 lead at the break.
The second period saw Lewes almost double their points tally, starting with a try made by the backs and rounded off by Hodson after only one minute into the half. This was followed just five minutes later by another Hodson try; both tries converted by Pitts to make it 68-0.
At this point, Lewes substituted young flanker Aaron White for Wynne and prop-forward Ollie Horscroft for outside-half Marty Campbell, with skipper Ben Hamer moving from back row to centre.
It was a sign of Lewes’ strength in depth this season that, in spite of these changes, they continued to play organised and attactive rugby,and maintain their high scoring rate.
Further tries from Bell (two) and Hodson (two) – taking their personal tallies to four apiece – and hooker Tom Gribble, complemented by two conversions by Hodson and three by Pitts, saw Lewes end the match with a thumping 103-0 scoreline. Credit to Purley that they never gave up, and fought to the last, and also joined Lewes for their end-of-season session in the bar afterwards.
n ON Sunday, Lewes Rugby Club’s Colts play Brighton in the Colts League Cup Final at Burgess Hill. Kick-off is 2pm.
TEAM: Andre, Gribble, W Horscroft, Gorbell, Wynne (White), Nayler, Hamer, Tudor, Bell, Campbell (O Horscroft), Hodson, Pitts, Halpin, Sharp, Hutchinson.