With the main pitch in Hampden Park still waterlogged in places, Martin’s Field became, yet again the scene of a vigorous, keenly-fought encounter between two determined sides.
After a narrow loss to Hove in the autumn, the Blues and Golds were resolved to get their revenge.
The home team dominated early on but then let a fast-running Hove side spin the ball wide leading to a converted try under the posts.
After some good passing moves and powerful drives from the home pack Eastbourne responded five minutes later with a try by Jack Linscott.
With Steff Cousins side-lined due to injury, the kicking duties were handed to Luke Sage. But this time the conversion failed.
However, 10 minutes later Sage succeeded with a penalty and Eastbourne were now in the lead by 8-7.
Despite some excellent attacks by their dangerous back line, Hove were unable to penetrate Eastbourne’s defences. But ten minutes after half –time with the home side having the advantage of the slope, Hove ran the ball wide again and went into the lead with a further try and conversion. It was now 14-8.
Some strong drives from Eastbourne using their great scrummaging aggression brought them to the visitors’ line and a series of penalties enabled them eventually to send new scrum-half James Newton crashing over for a well-deserved score.
Good drives from Liam Eyre, Matt Webb and Jo Skeet kept the Hove defences busy. Further scores might have followed but for the final pass going astray.
Again some powerful work by the forwards right on Hove’s line should have brought greater dividends, but the home side were denied.
And Nick King was unlucky not to score after a great run down the middle.
However, after half an hour’s play Luke Sage scored an excellent try which he then converted. Eastbourne led 20-14 with ten minutes to go.
With Jack Linscott off injured, Tom Redman switched to the wing, Andy Curtis came on and newcomer Tyler Bowry also stepped up to make his mark with some energetic runs.
Russ Aitkenhead, at No10 executed some excellent kicks to touch, Joe Bettles, Matt Mottram, Matt Hayllar and Chris Chilvers worked hard in the loose to thwart Hove’s efforts and good covering from the backs stifled an otherwise promising Hove backline.
As the match drew to a close Eastbourne hammered on the Hove try-line and scrum-half Newton scrambled over again for a final score of 25-14.
Man of the match James Newton.
Eastbourne now sit comfortably in third position and travel next week to Haywards Heath with confidence. A bonus point puts them four points behind Crawley.
Team: Eyre, Bettles, Webb, Chilvers, Mottram, Redman, Skeet, Hallyar, Newton, Aitkenhead, Slaughter, M.King, N.King, Sage, Linscott, Bowry, Curtis, van Bentham.