Lewes II – 10
St Leonards Cinque Ports – 48
Ports returned to league action with a trip to a Lewes side who had beaten Ports twice the last season.
Ports had a competitive squad and despite hosting, Lewes were short-handed with Ports veterans Gavin Thomas and Kim Wan starting the game in Lewes shirts.
Despite the issues Lewes started well and a loose kick was strongly fielded by the full-back who ran in at speed. Ports found themselves behind, but quickly looked to impose structure.
Colin Whyte and Luke Loving-Price both carried well but Lewes were solid in the tackle. Henry Hill and Mike Hutchins both looked to distribute well, acting as dual playmakers but the initial score came from a great line break by Whyte.
The prop made 30 metres before fixing his man and putting Will Steele over in the corner.
Ports hammered at the defensive line, Barry Porter and Matt Standen acting as battering rams. The Lewes defence held strong in the centre again but width again undid them with Steele losing his winger to add a second. Luke Barningham converted.
The third try came from Steele making another break but when denied he fed Loving-Price who powered over.
Lewes found some structure, a ball was dropped on the line denying them a try before an excellent line saw the Lewes hooker over for well-worked try.
During the period of Lewes control Ports worked solidly in defence. Loving-Price swept up loose balls, Whyte made tackle after tackle and Josh Storey did the unseen dirty work at the breakdown.
Ports managed to find their way back into Lewes territory. Standen and Steele both charged at the line but they could not breakdown the defence, Ports again looked for width and Hutchins made a clever kick that Barningham leapt on to score. He converted his own try.
The second half started with Lewes beginning to tire. They did show some resolve and still ran hard, Dale Whittington and Greg Montier making key tackles. Ports had a clear game plan at this point and quick ball passed through the hands found captain Murray Warman who ran in from 30 metres. Barningham converted. He added a second, after solid distribution again found him in space. Full-back Barningham again slotted the conversion.
Ports found space easier to find. Wan and Hall were both unlucky not to score from out close. Barningham added a penalty that extended the lead before he finished the try scoring with a scything run that split the defence. He added his fifth conversion.
Coach Paul Smart summed up the match saying: “Strength, fitness and the game plan overcame a strong Lewes side. I’m very pleased with our overall performance”.
A number of players stood out. Steele added two well finished tries but the E-Heat Man of the Match was awarded jointly to Luke Loving-Price who put in a consummate flankers performance with an array of tackling and work at the breakdown and to Colin Whyte who was dangerous in attack and added structure , and showed real steel in defence .