Eastbourne trounce Trinity … Haywards Heath make Worthing wilt
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Counties 1 Sussex/Surrey
Eastbourne hosted Trinity in their first home game of 2024, seeking redemption after a disappointing away fixture earlier in the season.
Trinity capitalised on Eastbourne's slow start and scored within the first three minutes.
But Eastbourne quickly responded with Captain Jake Howe's try, levelling the score at 7-7.
Eastbourne made their intentions clear with a dynamic restart involving slick hands from the backs, and an impressive offload from Ronnie Doorey-Palmer to set Dylan Viles up for his first of four tries.
Despite Trinity's 15-minute attacking phase, Eastbourne's resilient defence held strong until a penalty allowed Trinity to score from a rolling maul, rewarding them with another five points.
Edging closer to half-time, powerful runs by James Grey created space for Aaron Hossack to assist Viles in scoring his second try, bringing the score to 21-12 in Eastbourne's favour.
The second half demonstrated Eastbourne's fitness and determination as they secured four unanswered tries.
A lapse in concentration allowed Trinity to score from a restart. However, these were to be their last points of the match as Eastbourne proved they still had a lot more to give.
The remainder of the game saw three further tries, pushing Eastbourne into a defiant lead with Ben Gower skanking the final try of the game from the halfway line – a great way to mark his first try for the senior team and sealing a winning score or 68-19.
The man of the match award went to James Grey, Eastbourne's number eight, for his outstanding attacking and defensive contributions and his exceptional work rate across the field.
After 13 games, Eastbourne sit in a healthy sixth place in the Counties 1 Surrey/Sussex table on 34 points.
Twickenham, in fifth, are only four points ahead of the men from Park Avenue but the top four – and from top down that’s Teddington, Old Tiffinians, KCS Old Boys and Weybridge Vandals – are well clear of the chasing pack.
This weekend it’s a trip to one of those leading sides as Eastbourne are on the road to face KCS Old Boys in what promises to be another challenging and physical encounter in Surrey.
Counties 2 Sussex
A bleak January afternoon was warmed up by what was probably Heath's best performance of the season against a highly committed Worthing side who seemed intent on causing an upset.
From the outset, playing down the hill, Worthing tore into Heath and pinned the home side down in their own 22.
This set the tone for much of the day with waves of Worthing attacks, particularly from their forwards, repelled by a committed Heath defence.
When Heath did get into the Worthing half they made it count. With 12 minutes gone a ruck in midfield was moved wide right where winger Aidan Baker took the tackle and popped a pass off the floor to the supporting Christian Streeter, who outpaced the defence for a score under the posts. Tom Wharton added the extras for 7-0.
Worthing turned up the heat and threw all they had at Heath who were camped on their own line defending for close on 20 minutes. Repeated turnovers and last-ditch tackles saw the red and black defensive wall hold firm.
With half-time approaching a rare foray into opposition territory saw Heath win a seemingly innocuous scrum on the Worthing 10m line. Wilf Bridges gave a short pass to scrum half Jamie Thurston who broke blind and sent a grubber through the Worthing defence which he chased himself to win the race for the touchdown in the corner for 12-0.
Having weathered the first half pressure and a couple of yellow cards, playing down the hill Heath suddenly had a spring in their step. A Worthing infringement in front of their posts not long after the restart was punished by Wharton to make it 15-0.
Ten minutes later more Heath pressure put the Worthing scrum in trouble five metres out and when the ball shot out unexpectedly Wharton dived on the loose ball for an opportunist try he converted himself for 22-0.
Heath were firmly in control and looking for the bonus point try to put the game to bed. A lineout on the Worthing 22 saw the ball pulled back to centre Streeter whose kick found Wharton and he beat the defenders and touched down for his second converted try to extend the lead to 29-0.
From the Worthing kick-off, the ball went through the hands of the forwards and backs all the way into the opposition 22 where a ruck formed in front of the posts. A Toby Vander burst forward saw him brought down just short of the line before offloading to MoM Thurston who was in support to slide over for his second try. Wharton converted for 36-0.
There were two red cards at the final whistle with frustration getting the better of a Worthing player and a Heath player reacting.
The final scoreline did not reflect Worthing's contribution.
On the adjoining pitch the Heath Rams had a convincing 67-5 win against Worthing III in their first league game of the season.
This week Heath’s first XV are away to Brighton II.