Blue and Golds suffer first league defeat

Eastbourne in action during their defeat at Brighton
Eastbourne in action during their defeat at Brighton

Brighton gained revenge for their loss at Park Avenue earlier this season and inflicted the first league defeat on the leaders Eastbourne.

Particularly galling for the visitors was the fact that it was former Eastbourne player Jake Thompson who put on a match winning performance for his new club. At the heart of the action he thoroughly deserved the second try and the accolades that followed him from the pitch.

The Eastbourne squad has been depleted by injury for over a month and the cause was not helped with the early departures of Dan Keen and Tom Buttle. With Charlie Smith also taking a knock and leaving the action for an early shower, it was home advantage from the start.

The artificial playing surface and the floodlights also seemed to favour Brighton who capitalised on their strengths from the first whistle.

Fifteen minutes of desperate defence was finally broken by a dummy pass to the Brighton scrum half who made 60 metres before offloading for the scoring move. This try was converted and five minutes later Thompson got his try to take the score to 12-0 in favour of the Blues.

At half time the Blue & Gold coach Russ Aikenhead reminded his team that they were only two scores behind and it seemed to galvanise the players into taking the game to Brighton and having the best 20 minutes of the game.

Numerous incursions took them towards the Brighton line but to no avail; Mottram, Van Bentham and Clark all came close but when a penalty was conceded for failure to roll away in the tackle, Brighton were able to extend their lead by a further three points. Still Eastbourne pressed forward, cheered by a vocal group of travelling supporters; still Brighton resisted every attack.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the hammer blow came when the referee pulled out his yellow card and sent Stefan Cousins to the sin bin for a technical foul. Inevitably the 14 v 15 factor quickly came into play and two further tries were conceded in the last period; the Brighton scrum half completed a fine game with a score of his own and the full back easily shrugged off tired tackles and crossed for the bonus point score.

After the defeat Eastbourne’s lead at the top of Sussex One was cut to just six points with Brighton Seconds now in second place, after fine form which has seen them win their last five games in the league.

Seaford’s match against Rye last weekend was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Eastbourne will regroup and injured players will return. Promotion remains a viable goal but a home win against eight placed Seaford in a fortnight will be essential.

The Blue and Golds will have this weekend off before facing local rivals Seaford, which will give them time to get their injured players back.

Eastbourne: Keen, Sinclair,Webb, Farley, Van bentham, Buttle, Redman, Cousins, Keen, Stephenson, Smith, Tennant, Clark, Hiremutt, Cheater, Goldsmith, Mottram, King