With the return of several squad members missing from their last game, Lewes were almost at full strength for this local derby.
Apart from the opening minutes - as Hove’s pack adapted the quicker to the blustery and muddy conditions - Lewes soon got back into their rhythm, restricting the hosts to within their own half for fully 25 minutes with a combination of forward power and controlled attacks, but unable to turn this into points as a result of the slippery ball leading to mis-handling and passing errors.
But the constant pressure from the visitors finally paid off after 38 minutes when, following a series of scrums close to Hove’s line, the referee at last awarded Lewes a penalty try, centre Nick Sharp’s conversion from in front of the posts seeing his side open the scoring at 0 -7 , which remained the position at half time.
With the wind in their backs for the second half, Lewes gained more possession and territory than in the first half, with Hove only rarely being able to break into the visitor’s half of the field. As conditions continued to deteriorate, there were limited scoring opportunities, but on 57 minutes, Lewes extended their lead to 0 - 12 after a strong scrum some 15 metres out saw No. 8 Mike Stubbs pick up the ball and feed it to the blind side to full-back Dan Wade coming into the attack, which he then swiftly passed out to over-lapping right-winger Jack Cullinane for a well-worked try in the corner. Although Sharp just missed the difficult conversion, he made amends after 68 minutes with a penalty on Hove’s 22 metre line, to give Lewes a deserved 0 - 15 victory in a match in which the weather dominated affairs.
This result means that, although near-rivals Haywards Heath picked up a winning bonus point in their victory over Worthing Seniors, Lewes remain top-of-the-table by virtue of a far superior points difference. After the match, Player-Coach Mike Stubbs had only one word to describe the game: “Tough!”.
Lewes: - Hill, Warren, Williams, Nayler, Creed, Gribble, Stubbs, Blunt, Terry, Shiell, Cullinane,Sharp, Tobin, Carmichael, Wade (reps., all used: Cripps, Jacques, Nolan).
Lewes 2nd’s lost 0 - 54 at home to Burgess Hill 2nd’s, but the result was not a fair reflection of a much closer game than the scoreline suggests.
On Saturday, Lewes 1st’s host Brighton 2’s at the Stanley Turner Ground, while the 2nd’s are away against Hastings 2nd’s, both games kicking-off at 2.30pm.
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