East Grinstead II 30
St Leonards CP 10
The journey to East Grinstead is always a challenging one, and this league trip was made tougher for Ports with a number of injuries and unavailable players meaning that an unfamiliar looking squad took the field in heavy and wet conditions.
From the kick-off though Ports showed real intent. Ashley Mountain and James Daniels made the first of numerous tackles to slow East Grinstead progress.
A penalty released the pressure but solid Ports defence found them breaking away. Mike Hutchins used his boot to peg back East Grinstead, trying to run the ball back a loose pass saw the ball go to ground and Murray Warman swooped to collect the ball and outstrip the defence to score. Hutchins kicked the conversion.
Ports found themselves in the ascendency. From a solid scrum anchored by Nick Giles, Ports launched themselves at East Grinstead repeatedly, Mountain and Daniels carried heavily.
Greg Montier, Luke Loving-Price and Matt Standen were also willing carriers but despite their physical efforts East Grinstead defended well.
Colin Whyte rolled back the years with a dancing run through the defence and his pass to Warman saw the winger break free but he was ushered into touch before the line.
East Grinstead did find some go forward too, Charlie Rumary and Daniels did lots of the dirty work around the breakdown to slow them. Josh Storey and Mountain worked heavily in heavy traffic to hold up the attacks.
Hutchins and Paul Smart combined well to manage territory, but the final pass went missing on a number of occasions. The second half saw East Grinstead make numerous changes, their more direct running saw them score early.
Ports struggled to gain possession, when East Grinstead were ill-disciplined Hutchins launched them into EG territory. Again Daniels and Mountain hammered at the line, and while a try was not forthcoming Luke Barningham slotted a penalty after an infringement at the breakdown.
East Grinstead used the possession effectively and made a number of scores, they also slotted a number of penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Ports kept fighting for the ball Montier, and Mountain were aggressive at the breakdown but the changes in personnel and heavy ground meant Ports could not match the energy levels of East Grinstead.
The hosts added another score to give the final count a gloss that did not reflect the efforts.
Coach Paul Smart captured the mood of the club after the game saying: “A great performance from the players available. We won the first half, convincingly, but couldn’t quite hang on.”
A number of players performed well throughout, Giles was dominant at the set-piece, Rumary did lots of unseen work too. Mountain was a destructive presence also, but E-Heat man of the match was James Daniels. The lock carried aggressively and tackled throughout.