Hat-trick hero Groenen leaves them groaning

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Eastbourne’s Dominic Groenen gave an inspired performance on Saturday picking up a hat-trick of tries and coach Roger Stanley’s man of the match award as Eastbourne maintained their unbeaten start to 2011.

The bonus point victory means the Blue and Golds move up to fifth place with a visit to Medway next Saturday.

Strong winds and a boggy pitch meant that Eastbourne gave only brief glimpses of the type of rugby that they have been playing of late.

The forwards did not have things all their own way and they had to dig deep to keep Cranbrook from getting any sort of foot-hold in the match.

The game began in excellent fashion for the home side as within minutes a good solid scrum in the 22 led to a pick up at eight, some good passing ensued and James Coulthard went over for the first points of the afternoon.

Steve Clark was asked to take the kick with Coulthard receiving treatment but unfortunately the two points went missing, 5-0 to Eastbourne.

Neither team could get up any momentum as the referee continually blew his whistle for various infringements.

Another penalty to Eastbourne saw Coulthard slot over for three points to move the score to 8-0 in Eastbourne’s favour. Cranbrook were their own worst enemy as they put themselves in further trouble when their restart failed to go past the 10 metre line.

Eastbourne called for a scrum on halfway, which gave them an excellent attacking platform. So it proved as slick passing in the midfield took the ball metres from the try line and the impressive Groenen picked up and went over thanks to sheer brute force.

Coulthard added the extras to make it 15-0 to Eastbourne.

It was not all one-way traffic however as Cranbrook slowly got into the game thanks to the seemingly constant award of penalties in their favour.

It was from one of these that good running in the midfield saw Cranbrook score their first try which was converted for 15-7.

The second half saw changes with James Stevens coming on for Richard Baron, and Lee Walker for Charlie Smith. Further Eastbourne pressure saw another penalty which Coulthard made no mistake with to stretch the Blue and Golds lead.

Groenen scored his second try of the afternoon with a pick up from the base of the scrum. The conversion was missed but the home side still looked out of reach at 23-7.

Moments later Groenen sealed the victory when he completed his hat-trick, the conversion missed on this occasion.

With the game drawing to a close Eastbourne took their foot off the gas and it was no surprise when Cranbrook scored their second try of the afternoon which was converted to bring the game to a close at 28-14.

Next Saturday Eastbourne visit Medway who sit two places below them in the London South East Division Three.

Team: Baron, Oakey, Webb, Mottram, Tobin (captain) Benniman, Buttle, Groenen, Keen, Coulthard, Thompson, Williams, Clark, Smith, Turner, Walker, Stevens, Fenner.