Eastboune Rugby Club produced a determined performance to progress to the second round of the Junior Vase at Sittingbourne on Saturday.
Having lost a number of players to other Kent sides, Sittingbourne were struggling at the bottom of Kent One and Eastbourne were hoping for a smooth ride even after the long journey across the rain-swept countryside.
Conditions underfoot were firm and Mal Chumbley was intent on putting out a mobile pack and fast-running backs, despite enforced changes in the line-up.
Matters were even to start with and Sittingbourne were able to keep possession with their powerful front-five.
Despite repeated incursions into Eastbourne territory, the visitors’ defence remained very solid.
The fast movements and skilful interplay between Eastbourne’s backs and forwards, an ever-increasing feature of a confident team was beginning to pay off as the Blue and Golds made territory time and time again.
After 20 minutes Linscott at full-back made a startling break, supported by captain Tom Redman who raced away to touch down under the posts - the try was duly converted.
Within five minutes Sittingbourne had replied with a well-taken penalty.
Almost at once another good passing movement among the Eastbourne backs led to within a few metres of the home-side’s line and Liam Eyre was over for a try brilliantly converted from wide-out by Steff Cousins.
At half-time Eastbourne led 14-3 and hoped for more of the same.
Despite the rain ceasing in the second half, Eastbourne struggled to achieve the same momentum and rhythm of the first half.
Sittingbourne, for their part, despite hard knocks to their big forwards, battled on with determination. Eastbourne’s defence, however, did not waver.
One tackle in particular, by late replacement Carl Slaughter was a tremendous effort.
After changes in the forwards Eastbourne found a little bit of spark but were still making slow progress.
Sittingbourne scored another penalty that brought the score to 6-14 and with it a greater determination to overcome the visitors.
But Eastbourne still had a bit of magic up their sleeves and from some 20-yards out replacement Charlie Parks charged over leaving his opponents stunned. The conversion failed.
Hard work and determination by a fired-up Sittingbourne pack led to frequent assaults on the Eastbourne line, repulsed one to one in the loose but finally successful from a joint effort through a pushover try which remained unconverted. Final score 11-19. A hard victory but mission accomplished.
Man of the Match Jack Linscott.
Friday night saw another well – supported floodlit match with Lewes Vets beating Eastbourne Vets 30-24.
Next Saturday the 1st XV travel away to Chichester III’s.