Eastbourne hold heads high in defeat to champs – Haywards Heath take step to title

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Eastbourne battled well but were beaten by leaders Toddington – whose win at Park Avenue earned them the title – while Haywards Heath look on course for silverware of their own. Here are the latest reports from both clubs...

Eastbourne 42 Teddington 53

Counties 1 Surrey/Sussex

Eastbourne welcomed league leaders Teddington to a sunny Park Avenue on Saturday afternoon, in what turned out to be a fantastic afternoon fast paced running rugby in a very high scoring and competitive game.

Eastbourne take on Teddington at Park Avenue | Picture: John FeakinsEastbourne take on Teddington at Park Avenue | Picture: John Feakins
Eastbourne take on Teddington at Park Avenue | Picture: John Feakins

Teddington have only lost once in 45 games and showed their class and organisation from the outset to race to a 3-22 lead, before Eastbourne decided to get their hands on the ball and get some control. Eastbourne started to get some phases together and to pressure the Teddington line, eventually scoring through Paul Smith with a great short pass to crash over the Teddington line.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Eastbourne kept attacking from deep and a great break from Dylan Viles playing at 13 put Mason Dowle into space who raced to the corner, who then cleverly stepped inside to the supporting Ronnie Dorey Palmer who scored under the sticks to narrow the score to 17 – 22. The official had a good day and kept the game flowing nicely but did make a large error on the stroke of half-time which cost Eastboune and Teddington went into the break 17-29 ahead.

Teddington scored twice in quick succession before Eastbourne responded through Montes. Teddington had to use their bench up early and were tiring quickly with the relentless pace of the game, which was giving Eastbourne more and more hope as the game went on. Next to cross for Eastbourne was left wing Gianluca Bianchi from a set move from a scrum. Dylan Viles capped off a good game out of position with a score to make it 36-46 with 10 minutes to play.

Eastbourne had a couple more chances to get a second losing bonus point and close the gap, and eventually did through substitute Stewart Baker who continues to show great promises and blistering pace when selected for the first team. Captain Jake Howe playing out of position at flyhalf in place of Aaron Hossack who was at the national flower arranging finals, kicked 11 points throughout the game.

In the Uckfield v Heath game, Martin Chappell came off the Uckfield bench to face nine of his ex-pupils playing in the Heath team | Contributed pictureIn the Uckfield v Heath game, Martin Chappell came off the Uckfield bench to face nine of his ex-pupils playing in the Heath team | Contributed picture
In the Uckfield v Heath game, Martin Chappell came off the Uckfield bench to face nine of his ex-pupils playing in the Heath team | Contributed picture

Teddington had the final say to win 42-53 and at full time an exhausted large crowd applauded a great game of rugby and clapped off a gallant Eastbourne and Teddington who were crowned rightful league champions with two games to spare.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jerry Montes was Eastbourne’s man of the match from number 8, with great work rate in attack and defence and constantly challenged the Teddington defence.

Eastbourne sit 6th in the league out of 12 and are keen to finish in the top half which would be a great effort, for the first season in the league. They are at home on Saturday to Old Walcountian’s before they travel to Weybridge Vandals for the final league game.

Counties 2 Sussex

With three games left of the league season, leaders Heath travelled away to Uckfield for what has historically been a tough fixture with a squad once again showing a number of changes and including two of this years colts.

Knocking on from the kick off Heath were immediately under pressure and conceded a penalty that was kicked for 3-0 after only a minute. However, Heath came straight back and opened up the visitors with some sparkling play only for inaccuracy and knock-ons preventing them from scoring. A long Uckfield clearance kick was fielded in their own half and run back by Heath with inter passing between backs and forwards eventually seeing the ball moved wide right for full back Tom Wharton to beat the defence and score and take the lead at 3-5.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Heath were still not looking convincing and were regularly conceding penalties. Uckfield missed a shot at goal as did Heath before more good work from the visiting backs saw winger Matt Cains go over in the corner for a try. Wharton clipped over the conversion taking Heath out to a 3-12 lead.

Heath used the momentum to gain an element of control and managed to cut out the mistakes that had impacted the performance so far. Forcing a penalty in the Uckfield 22 when the tackler failed to roll away, Heath elected to take the scrum and, after recycling the ball in midfield, colt Tom Bishop who recently featured for London & South East Division ran a diagonal line through defenders to crash over for another converted score increasing the lead to 3-19 which is how it stayed to the half time break.

The second half saw the Uckfield pack up the ante, dominating in the set piece and forcing regular penalties. A scrum in the Heath 22 was defended initially but the power of the home forwards eventually saw them over the line to score for 8-19. Heath then had to weather another ten minutes of Uckfield forward power before exiting their own half. The visitors were able to take advantage when the ball found centre Jack Lucas who burst his way through and rounded three defenders to dot down for the bonus point try and 8-24 to Heath.

Uckfield powered back again and applied pressure with their pack to force another score this time with the extras added for a 15-24 scoreline and ten minutes left.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Heath worked their backs downfield and a bit of Uckfield indiscipline saw a yellow for the home side and a penalty opportunity for Wharton which he gratefully accepted for 15-27 which remained the score until the final whistle.

The game will be particularly remembered for the contest between teacher and former students. Warden Park sports master Martin Chappell came off the Uckfield bench with only 2 minutes gone to face nine of his ex-pupils playing in the Heath team. Mr Chappell, who has put an awful lot into rugby at Warden Park and across Sussex schools generally will have coached each of the nine Heath players since joining the school ten years ago, held up well to the challenge and was heavily involved in some of Uckfield's best passages of play and was pleased to see so many of his protégés playing for the Heath 1st XV squad.

Next weekend sees Heath home to Crawley for the last home league game of the season – all support welcome for a 3pm kickoff that might secure the league for Heath in a milestone season on and off the pitch with the prospect of a new Clubhouse turning into reality at Whitemans Green.

Heath 1stXV Squad: Elliott Higgin; Lewis Goodhall: Harry Edwards; Dan Shotton; Charlie Fenwick; Ellis Dubois; Wilf Bridges [capt]; Tom Bishop; Jamie Thurston; Christian Streater; Matt Cains; Jack Lucas; Ollie Simpson; Gabe Moore; Tom Wharton; Harry Clarke; Ben Eustace; Chris Neill.