VIGO VICTORIOUS IN DEEPEST KENT
By DERECK Wade
VIGO 26 LEWES 7
With a side weakened by injuries and unavailabilities, it took some time for Lewes to get their act together on their first-ever visit to fourth-placed Vigo in North Kent. After the hosts sprinted to a 19 -0 half-time lead, the visitors then began to play some controlled and attacking rugby, enabling them to force Vigo onto the back foot for long periods. A further try against the run of play by Vigo was cancelled out by a splendid last-minute, deserved try for Lewes, meaning that the second half was actually drawn.
For the first five minutes of the match, the heavier and more experienced Vigo pack put Lewes under pressure inside their own half, and this was reflected in a flurry of penalties against the Sussex side. This resulted in the first try of the match on 10 minutes when Vigo's full-back took advantage of some sloppy Lewes defending to touch down near the posts, the conversion by his outside-half seeing the home side open the scoring at 7 - 0.
The second Vigo try followed some ten minutes later when poor tackling by Lewes inside their own 22 metre zone gifted the ball to their opponents' outside-centre for another converted try to see the Kent side pull further ahead at 14 - 0. The next ten minutes, however, saw Lewes up their game, gaining them some possession and territory at last, only for their efforts to be undone by Vigo's third, but unconverted, try by their No. 10 after a counter-attack from deep, making the score 19 - 0 at the half-time whistle.
Lewes's hardy band of supporters were by now concerned that a flood of points would follow for the hosts in the second half, but in fact their spirits rose when their team - showing great resilience and character - began to go on the offensive, using the slope to their advantage and forcing Vigo to make only relatively few incursions into the Lewes half.
Unfortunately, Lewes could not turn all this into points and were somewhat cruelly punished for not doing so when, only 12 minutes from time, another handling error saw the ball scooped up by the Vigo full-back for a long-range, converted (and bonus point) fourth try to stretch away at 26 - 0.
But Lewes never gave up, and continued to press the hosts right up to the end of the match, and were duly rewarded with the best try of the game, winning the ball on the half-way line for inside-centre Henry Shiell to burst through a tiring Vigo defence, before passing the ball out to winger Seb Roberts for a great team try under the posts, converted by outside-half Billy Shiell, to see Lewes end a difficult away match 26 - 7 with some honour preserved.
Lewes: Gardner, Moule (Capt.), Williams, Evans, Gorbell, Lowen, Hewitt, Robinson, Taylor, B.Shiell (V.Capt.), Roberts, H.Shiell, Feltham, Durrant, Bredin. (Reps, both used; Dodgson, Hampel).
With Lewes now slipping down the table after a more promising start to the season - and withthree equally-difficult away matches remaining they must try and pick up all the points they can in their home matches, starting on Saturday with a local derby at home to Hastings and Bexhill, k.o. 2.00pm.
Lewes 2nd's also had a difficult away match at Crowborough, eventually going down by
42 - 21, their points coming via tries from Tom Petty, Jamie Austen and G.Cole, all converted by Dan Billin,