UCKFIELD registered a massive win on Saturday, against National Vase semi finalists Maidstone.
With six forwards unavailable, Uckfield were forced to make some changes in the pack, all of whom played their hearts out. In glorious conditions for running rugby and a large crowd on the touch line, it was set to be a thriller.
Maidstone won the toss and elected to play the first half with the sun on their backs. With Darren Clark at fly half, his ability to crash the ball up, to offload, or to land a kick on a six-pence, kept the Maidstone defence guessing.
It was from one such kick that Uckfield scored their first try. The nature of Clark’s stabbed kick meant that when the ball bounced it came back into the hands of his captain, Martin Chappell, who simply had to put the ball on the floor. Tom Ward missed the conversion.
Maidstone used their big second rows to repeatedly crash up the middle of the park, before spinning the ball out to their stocky centre. Unfortunately for him he was smashed backwards by Clark and Ward on more than one occasion before going off injured.
This left Maidstone with only one option, with their No 8 occasionally making ground. On 30 minutes Maidstone looked certain to score wide; however, a superb try-saving tackle arrived courtesy of Lee Evans, who even won a penalty for Ward to relieve the pressure. From the resulting line out the Maidstone flanker intercepted Nick Ridley’s pass to score to the right of the posts. The conversion was missed.
Just after half time both sides scored a penalty. Maidstone were next to score a try, but had to work very hard for it. A combination excellent defence by Uckfield and even better ball retention by Maidstone saw their winger score out wide after 20 phases.
Uckfield then scored their second try after good interplay between Clark, Ridley and Evans allowed Terry Funnell to bundle his way over right on the touch line. With the scores at 13-13, everything was still to play for. It was that man Clark who again used his magic boot to chip over the top of the defence. The luck of the bounce saw it land in his arms and he handed off the full back to run in for the try. The Acorns held on to their five-point lead for the win 13-18.
Uckfield host fellow strugglers Park House next week who thumped bottom club Eastbourne at the weekend.