This is turning into a ‘what might have been’ season for Lewes – losing games by narrow margins but picking up valuable bonus points along the way.
With the players showing more spirit and determination than in previous weeks, Lewes’ first half performance was the best for a long time, aided by the return of powerful hooker Matt Hipwell.
But it was the hosts who took an early lead 3-0 after five minutes, full-back Joe McEvoy kicking over a penalty from 22 metres after Lewes were found offside. Lewes hit back straight away, winning good ball inside Warlingham’s defensive area before passing it out left for speedy winger Justin McGuire to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try, as Lewes took a 3-5 lead.
The Surrey side re-took the advantage 6-5 with a second penalty from McEvoy after Lewes were penalised on their 22 metre line for not releasing the ball, followed by a penalty to the visitors two minutes later which outside-half Kris Wilder slotted over to go back in front by 6-8.
Lewes were now dominating possession and territory but were unable to turn this to their benefit as Warlingham held out to half-time.
The second half proved a scrappy affair, with Lewes – forced to make several changes due to injuries and having to play up the slope – unable to break away. Indeed, the rest of the match was characterised by a host of unforced errors from both sides. But a rare foray into Lewes’ 22 on 47 minutes saw Warlingham strike next, another penalty from McEvoy going over to see the hosts back in the lead at 9-8.
The next quarter was even before a period of pressure from Lewes was rewarded with a penalty from 22 metres out but the kick was missed.
This turned out to be the turning point of the match, as Warlingham hoofed the ball downfield from the re-start, where it was fumbled by the Lewes defence, enabling McEvoy to pick up and touch down in the left corner for an unconverted try to make the final score 14-8.
Nevertheless Lewes earned yet another losing bonus point which keeps them off the foot of the table, and moves them level with local rivals Heathfield and Waldron.
LEWES: Williams, Hipwell, Edmonson, Gorbell, Hamer, Davies, Blunt, Ridley, L McGlynn, Wilder, Shiell, Van Der Velde, J. McGlynn, McGuire, Wade.
Reps, all used: Piper, Giles, Meiring.
This Saturday (KO 2.30pm) Lewes 1st XV are at home for a tough match against London 2 SE promotion hopefuls Medway.