St Leonards Cinque Ports 54
Hastings & Bexhill II 0
For a second successive week Ports’ league opposition did not make the trip to 1066 country and hosts and friendly rivals Hastings & Bexhill stepped in to offer opposition for back to back derby clashes.
Ports worked through their recent injury crisis and had a squad of 18, Hastings only had 12 players available so Ports lent them a variety of players starting the game 14 v13.
Ports started with a clear game plan. Powerful drives through the forwards, before the finding the dangerous outside runners.
George Upton returning from injury provided a clear example, his strong running finding gaps and creating space. Inevitably his direct running broke the defence and he broke the whitewash for the first score. Henry Hill enjoyed the space and organised the backs well, his flicked offload found Murray Warman in the wide channels and Warman scored a swift second.
The wide channels were a happy hunting ground for Ports, Will Steele was lively throughout. The pacy Scotsman fielded a loose ball well and his pass gave clear space for Morgan Pearce to add a third.
Hastings had some ball at this stage, but solid work by Matt Standen at the break down and Kim Wan and Josh Storey in the tackle meant this came to nothing.
Hill was a creative force, his running created a three on one overlap and Pearce fed Joe Whitehill-James who dived over in the corner.
The backs interconnected well and good movement and passing from Pearce and Mike Hutchins created acres of space for Steele to score a deserved effort in the corner. The direct running created problems for Hastings, Mark Wright made huge yardage before Ports worked through the phases and second row Josh Storey found himself space after a great pass by Warman to amble over for his first club try.
Ports made a number of changes and Hastings found greater structure in the second half, Ports had to work harder for possession. Standen and Colin Whyte acted as battering rams before Hill straightened up the attack and centre Hutchins accelerated through the gap to score his first try for the club.
Ports were stretching the defence every time with the ball in hand, Whitehill-James came close before Upton took matters in his own hand and dived over in the corner. From the ensuing kick-off he then collected and ran 70 metres through poor tackling to claim his hat-trick. Hill converted.
Ports created passages of well structured player, veteran play-maker Paul Smart pulled the strings and a well-worked looping move allowed space for Standen to slice through and add a tenth try. Smart’s conversion was the last action of the game.
Smart also captured the mood post-match saying: “It was a solid victory over spirited opposition.”
Ports looked strong across the field but the stand-out performers were Upton who ran ferociously and scored three tries that captured all the facets of his play. Storey carried well but E-Heat man of the match was Will Steele who created danger every time he fielded the ball and scored one and had a hand in two other tries.
Squad Steele, Pearce, Hutchins, Whitehill-James, Hill, Hall (Smart), Whyte (Whittington), Wright, Giles, Storey (Thomas), Wan, Standen, Warman, Upton