Matt’s finish in dying seconds seals title glory

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AFTER a tough day’s rugby, Eastbourne under-9s brought back the Lewes Festival winners’ trophy.

The first of two big festivals gave half of the Eastbourne squad the opportunity to see how far they have progressed. Eleven boys were in attendance at Lewes and all of them played a part in a fun-filled and exciting day.

Pool game number one resulted in a victory by four tries to nil against Uckfield RFC as the boys defended stoutly and attacked when needed.

Game two was against new opponents, Upminster RFC, of Essex. Again the boys performed well to fly into a half time 3-0 lead. The foot was taken off the gas in the second half, but a comfortable 3-1 win was recorded.

Group game three, as expected, proved a tough game. Hastings & Bexhill demonstrated the art of tackling low and defending as a team to limit Eastbourne to a half time 1-0 lead. In the second half, key players upped their game and a hard-fought 3-1 victory was recorded.

This meant the final group game against hosts Lewes was effectively a semi-final as both teams had won all their games. A solid start resulted in a 1-0 lead, however Lewes hit back with a superbly worked try of their own to level the scores.

The pace merchants then went into overdrive to take the lead and a solid defence wasn’t breached for the rest of the first half. In the second half, Eastbourne defended well and two more tries followed for a comfortable 4-1 win.

West Sussex Festival winners Worthing provided the opposition in the final, which produced rugby of a very high standard. Worthing’s trademark expansive rugby forced the Eastbourne defence to work hard across the pitch.

The first score went the way of Eastbourne, but Worthing equalised, then Eastbourne scored again and Worthing equalised again to make it 2-2 at half time.

Twice more Eastbourne took the lead only for Worthing to twice more find space out wide to level at 4-4. But in the last knockings, some lovely support play resulted in the game (and tournament) winning try for Matt D’Arcy.

All 11 Eastbourne players got on the pitch in the final and Freddie Earnshaw duly collected the trophy. Eastbourne will seek to repeat the feat at the Uckfield Festival.

Eastbourne: Freddie Earnshaw, Will Ewer, Matt D’Arcy, George Molloson, Seb Wardle, Alex Eldridge, Ben Young, George Loader, Henry Spalding,Josh White, Justin Funnell.