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1st XV - Match centre

Sat 8 Apr 15:00 - London & SE Division - London 3 South East Full time



First versus fifth in the table was always going to be an attractive end-of-season fixture, added to which was the need for hosts Pulborough to secure a four-try bonus point which would guarantee them the League title. But a fighting performance from an injury-ravaged Lewes side denied Pulborough the full five points, and even gained themselves a losing bonus point of their own.
The open session of the match revealed nervousness from both sides, resulting in numerous unforced errors, but it already showed that the Lewes pack were equal to their opponents in all phases. However, Lewes's long injury list was added to after only six minutes, right-winger Joe Terry having to leave the field to be replaced by Tom Petty. This temporarily upset the visitor's rhythm, enabling Pulborough to open the scoring after 12 minutes via a try following a line-out inside Lewes's 22 metre area, flanker Dan Bullock scoring after the subsequent strong drive towards the line, outside-half Fraser Olliphant kicking over conversion to make it 7 - 0.
Pulborough then went on the offensive, winning possession and territory as a result, and ten minutes later this was rewarded with their second, but unconverted, try by right-winger Will Scrase to extend the lead to 12 - 0. Lewes then suffered yet another injury, this time flanker Billy Shiell having to go off, replaced by Fraser Warren. Although this meant the visitors had used up all their replacements before half-time, this only seemed to spur them on as they continued to take the fight to their opponents, with their strong-running backs making deep inroads inside Pulborough's half, only to be held out by solid defence from the hosts. But the pressure finally told after 32 minutes, an impressive surge upfield seeing the ball spun out wide for Petty to score a fine but unconverted try in the corner to narrow the gap to 12 - 5, which remained the position at the half-time whistle.
Only six minutes into the second-half, Olliphant was yellow-carded for a high tackle but resolute Pulborough defence prevented Lewes taking advantage of the extra man, Indeed, it was the hosts who score next after 56 minutes with their third, but unconverted try, Scrase's second, to make it 17 - 5. The next session saw increased Lewes pressure, aided by Pulborogh's desperate attempts to score their bonus-point fourth try leading them to make a series of tactical and other errors, and being thwarted near the line on several occasions by inspired Lewes defence.
Lewes's fighting spirit was rewarded just five minutes from time when, after a penalty near Pulborough's line, the hosts were expecting a set scum, but scrum-half Shane Costigan caught them on the hop by taking a quick tap and then diving over in the left corner for a great individual try. Although the conversion just went wide, Lewes had nevertheless pulled themselves back into a deserved losing bonus-point situation at 17 - 10, which was the position at the final whistle.
Pulborough appeared somewhat deflated at this final score, until they heard that second-placed Haywards Heath had also failed to secure a bonus-point win, meaning that Pulborough were League Champions after after, with Heath also gaining promotion as runners-up. Lewes retained their fifth place - a very creditable position in their first season in this competitive League, especially taking into account their loss of numerous key players during the campaign - a situation which may be summed up as "what might have been the final result if they had retained their full-strength squad throughout". .
After the match, the best quote came from Assistant Coach Nigel Baker: "This was the best defeat I've seen all season!", while Player-Coach Mike Stubbs - in his last game for the Club before taking up a coaching position in Australia - commented:"The boys showed commitment and pride today. We've been so badly hit by injuries this year, but have fought throughout. If a couple of passes had stuck today, it may have been a different result".
On their return to the Clubhouse, players and supporters attended the Annual Awards Dinner, at which the successful Ladies XV paraded the National Junior Cup they won the previous week. Award winners were:
Ladies Team Men's 1st. Team Men's 2nd. Team

Player of the Year: Charlie Chippett Matt Blunt/Luke Raynor Simon Sampson

Players' Player
of the Year : Hannah Ross Abe Bredin Harry Weston

Most Improved Player: Gina Potter Tom Hatch Ian Irvine
Club Woman of the Year: Becky Ford

Club Man of the Year: Aidan Byrne
After the Cups were presented by Chairman Nick Page, special thanks were given by Mens' 1st XV Captain James Halpin to Player-Coach Mike Stubbs who, in his 2 years at the Club, had contributed to Lewes being double League/Cup Champions last season, and attaining a deserved high-ranking place in this season's League. All wished Mike well for his future role "Down Under".

On Sunday, Lewes hosted their ever-popular Minis festival. In bright sunshine, some 1,000 girls and boys between the ages of 7 to 12 played a series of matches between Clubs from: Lewes, Hastings & Bexhill, Heathfield, Uckfield, Hellingly and Newick.

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Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

Other London 3 South East results

Thanet Wanderers
Aylesford Bulls


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Pulborough 22 90
2. Haywards Heath 22 89
3. Thanet Wanderers 22 85
4. Folkestone 22 76
5. Lewes 22 64
6. Old Dunstonians 22 40
7. Aylesford Bulls 22 39


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