Pride & passion returns despite defeat to leaders Crowborough

Charlie Smith v Crowborough.JPG
Charlie Smith v Crowborough.JPG

Eastbourne may have lost this game but gave a sterling performance based on pride, passion and a refusal to give anything less than 100 per cent.

The display was a vast improvement on the reverse fixture earlier in the season when Eastbourne lost 94-0 against the league leaders.

The Blue and Gold’s league position remains precarious at best as they remain second from bottom in the table on seven points after 13 matches with only league whipping boys Crawley below them.

After the match Crowborough chairman stated the Blue and Golds do not deserve relegation when they play like this.

Eastbourne brought in Matt Finney to strengthen the front row and gave Nick King his first outing in the centre.

With Tom Plantrose beginning to link nicely with James Coulthard at half back the whole team began intelligently in front of the biggest crowd of the season seen at Park Avenue.

Although it was Crowborough who demonstrated from the start why they have only lost one game this season, managing to score on eight minutes from a rolling maul.

It was Eastbourne who took the game to the opposition for most of the first half. Failure to tackle (a feature of some performances before Christmas) seemed to be a thing of the past as Eastbourne tore into Crowborough with real purpose.

A fine burst by King on 25 minutes so nearly resulted in a try and his centre partnership with Clarke always looked threatening.

There is no doubt that Crowborough felt themselves fortunate to reach half time ahead by the narrow margin of 0-5.

Playing down the slope and with a setting sun behind them, Crowborough managed to extend their lead after a suspiciously forward looking pass allowed their wing extra space and he accepted gratefully to touch down in the corner.

After only 10 minutes of the second half Eastbourne lost Steve Clarke to a leg injury and were forced to reshuffle.

George Walker came on as scrum half and Tom Plantrose moved to full back allowing Max Cheater to resume his normal position in the centre.

At every move however, Crowborough were put under pressure and it was only after a clever touch kick from a penalty after 20 minutes, that Crowborough were able to put another seven points on the board and pretty well make a victory inevitable.

Hayler replaced Bettles in the pack and then with only five minutes left, the referee showed a yellow card to Charlie Smith, whose departure left Eastbourne with 14 men.

Conceding two further tries in those final minutes was thus cruel and less than the home side deserved. Even then, heads refused to go down and an interception was judged marginally offside to deny Eastbourne the score that their efforts deserved.

“No result but no disgrace. A fine display of committed rugby from both sides.” was Chairman Fraser Brooks’ assessment at the end of the match.

Eastbourne: Imich, Mills, Finney, Brady, Tobin ©, Bettles, Brooks, Stratford, Plantrose, Coulthard, Bettles, Clarke, King, Smith, Cheater, Walker, Hayler