St Leonards CP 108
Crowborough III 7
Ports played a second successive home league game, but where previous opposition Eastbourne had arrived with a sizeable squad Ports hosted a Crowborough side who only arrived with eight players.
The side was bolstered by a number of Hastings and Bexhill players, and Ports squad members.
Ports had a sizeable squad, including the return of Rob Tritton after a six year absence following a significant motor vehicle accident.
From the kick off Tom Ingram passed to Ross Kearney, and the Irishman found a large gap to slip through. Luke Barningham kicked the first of 14 conversions he would make.
Ports found gaps and despite aggressive tackling from Ports’ Mickey Scriven on the Crowborough side Murray Warman slipped through a gap to score.
Crowborough slowed the play down but Mike Hutchins worked the narrow side and Robbie Fink bumped off tacklers to dive over in the corner.
A counter attack provided the next try with Barningham rounding the defence. The powerful Matt Standen was at the heart of Ports structured play, and it was his running that created space for Warman to add a second.
As well as the power game Ports could also mix it up and offer expansive rugby, the ball was worked through the hands and Will Steele jabbed through a kick. It luckily bounced off a defender and back to the Scotsman who went over in the corner.
Crowborough had been more dogged but defensive gaps allowed Ingram through who pushed away a would be tackler with a huge hand off. Warman rounded off a first half hat-trick also utilising a hand-off to score. A looping off-load ended the half with Luke Loving-Price being rewarded for his support running with his second try of the season.
The second half started with more Ports players bolstering Crowborough. Steve Hall fed Fink and the Czech winger scored his second try of the game for a second side! Hastings and Bexhill stalwart Chris Pillow converted.
A well worked try where Kearney fed Steele saw another try for the Scotsman. Barningham added to his tally with a try where he bumped off would be tacklers, and sauntered over. Kearney then added a second where a loose kick was chased down.
Joe Whitehill-James scored a loping individual try, before Warman added a fourth with a burst through the defence. Barningham showed real generosity to feed Gavin Thomas for a try after making the break himself.
The game ended with Jody Freeman finding an unusual amount of space for a Prop and bursting through.
Apart from the scorers numerous players performed well. Tritton was a powerful runner, and Barry Porter made yards whenever he had the ball in his hand.
Coach Paul Smart was realistic in his appraisal of the game: “A very respectful performance against an under-strength Crowborough team. We stuck to our game plan in both halves”.
A number of performances shone. Warman was a lethal finisher, and Standen was an aggressive carrier throughout. The E-Heat man of the Match award though was presented to Luke Barningham. His 38 point haul demonstrated his dangerous running and lethal boot.