Eastbourne Rugby Club produced a determined and powerful performance during their defeat against a strong Sheppey side at Park Avenue on Saturday.
The Blue and Golds matched their newly promoted rivals for long periods of the game but paid the price for two lapses in discipline which handed six cheap points to the visitors.
Sheppey played down wind and down the slope in the first half but Eastbourne defended well.
James Coultard, Nathan Ring and Shaun Everett were strong in the tackle and denied Sheppey until Ring gave away a penalty in the 25th minute.
The Kent out-fit converted the chance to take a 3-0 lead. Joe Tobin was yellow carded after a bout of needless push and shove and Eastbourne played out the remainder of the first half and the start of the second with 14 men.
Once again the defence held firm with Max Cheater and Charlie Smith defending well on the flanks.
Restored to 15 men, Eastbourne hit back to take the lead with an unconverted try. Gareth Turner did well to free the ball and Everett’s punt forward was gathered by the pacey Smith who grounded to make the scores 5-3.
Sheppey countered with another penalty before Eastbourne manufactured another scoring chance. However, the Blue and Golds chose to tap and run instead of kicking and the chance was gone.
Rob Light and Jarrod Verna continued to defend well but the pressure eventually told. A knock-on from a high ball forced a line-out and Sheppey drove over to make the final score the 13-5.
EASTBOURNE: Richard Barron, Jon Oakey, Josh Imich, Joe Tobin (captain), Matt Mottram, Jarad Verna, Tom Redman, Rob Light, Paul Keen, James Coultard, Charlie Smith, Nathan Ring, Shaun Everett, Max Cheater, Gareth Turner.
Eastbourne IV 31,
Hellingly II 33
Eastbourne and Hellingly kicked off their seasons with an entertaining friendly.
Starting with a strong breeze at their backs, Hellingly quickly scored their first try with second row, Gerry Davis going over. This was followed up with a try by flyhalf Matt Sands, after an excellent run from Steve Lee.
Eastbourne quickly woke up and started playing some good rugby into the wind and were soon rewarded with three points from a penalty. A great break from Matt Sands released the ever improving Alistair Mann to go over under the posts.
Eastbourne rallied and managed to score a converted try. Hellingly managed to squeeze one more converted try following another great run from Steve Lee, and with Nick Moore converting all tries took a half time lead of 28 -10.
The second half saw Eastbourne gaining the upper hand and the score was soon narrowed to 28-24, with two converted tries.
Hellingly, under the inspired leadership of new captain, Kieran Beal started to pressure the Eastbourne line and following three successive penalties on the Eastbourne five metre line.
They eventually went over in the corner to extend the lead to 33–24. With 10 minutes to go, Eastbourne scored again to get within two points of Hellingly, but although they continued to press, Hellingly held out.