EASTBOURNE Rugby Club ended its 2013/14 Sussex One season with defeat in a hard- fought game against the runaway champions.
Although Pulborough had long since earned promotion and with this victory maintained a full season’s unbeaten record, Eastbourne know that the game was far closer than the score suggested and that they gave their opponents a battle to remember.
They were just half a second slower to the breakdown every time, however, and consequently, the Black & White hoops dominated the ruck and maul on Saturday.
It was a day when the strong westerly wind, combined with the slope of the pitch gave a 40-minute advantage to whichever side had the benefit of it.
The visitors had the conditions in their favour from the kick-off and quickly showed why they have had such a successful season. The Blue & Golds had to endure a torrid 15 minutes, putting in so many tackles that spectators lost count.
Inevitably the defence was eventually breached on 20 minutes when the Pulborough flanker crossed after numerous incursions towards the home try line.
A 0-7 scoreline as half time approached looked to be a manageable deficit but the crucial moment of the game occurred on the half-hour when an inexplicable defensive error let the visitors in for the simplest of tries.
Heads could so easily have dropped at that point; instead following some fine work by Mottram and Bettles, the line beckoned only for Nick King to be denied by a last ditch tap tackle. Pulborough regained the momentum and managed two further scores before the interval to turn around leading by 24 points.
With the elements in their favour, the second half was all Eastbourne. Skipper Tom Redman scored a well-deserved try just five minutes after the restart which was converted by Stefan Cousins.
Time and again Eastbourne pressed forward; indeed Pulborough had to play the entire 40 minutes in their own half but their defence was monumental. Skeet came close more than once; Redman so nearly got his second and Max Cheater crossed at pace only to be held up by a Pulborough forward who prevented him from touching down. Man of the match was scrum-half James Newton.
Eastbourne end the campaign in third place with a commendable record of 15 wins from 22 outings (scoring 509 points and conceding 292) and much to be proud of. They can look forward to next season with confidence.
Eastbourne: Eyre, Bettles, Keen, Chilvers, Mottram, Redman, Hayllar, Skeet, Newtopn, Cousins, King, King, Cheater, Sage, Linscott, Webb, Bowry, Bettles.