LEWES OUT-MUSCLED ONCE MORE
By DERECK Wade
LEWES 10 HASTINGS & BEXHILL 26
In this League/Cup double-header, a depleted Lewes side (playing in red shirts) went down once more to an improved Hastings outfit, whose lowly league position belies their recent improvement in form.
Matters were made worse for the home side when their newly-signed hooker, Sam Wakely - playing his first game for the Club - suffered a serious injury in the second half which held up play for some 30 minutes and which lead to the match having to be switched to an adjoining pitch.
Hastings took an early 0 - 7 lead with a try from their No. 7, Isaac Wales, converted by full-back Ian Waring and on the half-hour hour extended this to 0 - 14 with a second try under the posts from Waring which he also converted. But Lewes then hit back five minutes later with a flowing attack upfield, finished off out left by winger Seb Roberts, but outside-half Billy Shiell's conversion attempt fell just short, making the score 5 - 14. This absorbing first-half, in front of a large and vociferous crowd, ended with no further points being added.
The second half saw Hastings' more muscular pack dominating proceedings, and they went on the ascendant as a result, aided by a string of uncharacteristic handling and other unforced errors by Lewes which gifted several more points to their opponents. The opening quarter of the second half, however, saw play evenly matched, but with Lewes's attempts to set up meaningful attacks coming to nought as they made too many mistakes and were held out by disciplined Hastings defence.
The deadlock was thus not unsurprisingly broken by the visitors on the hour as they barged down a Lewes attempt to clear inside their own 22 metre area, allowing Hastings' left-winger, Tim Sills, to take full advantage, Waring missing the conversion, but seeing his side pull further ahead at 5 - 19.
But with the injury incident then occurring, play was disrupted and once it re-started, a buoyant Hastings side responded the better, with a second (and his side's bonus-point) try under the posts by Sills, Waring kicking over the conversion, to pull away at 5 - 26.
However, as with last week's performance, Lewes never gave up and were rewarded with the final, but unconverted, try of the match near the end by full-back Harry Hanley - following a stunning attack down the left from deep inside their own half - which saw the match end at 10 - 26.
With their mounting list of injuries - and with two of their key players now leaving for Australia - Lewes will have to dig deep into their reserves if they are to halt their current slide towards the relegation zone, a particularly disappointing state of affairs after their bright and encouraging start to the season.
Lewes: Gardener, Wakely, Williams, Evans, Cowling, Dodgson,Moule (Capt.), Robinson, Taylor, Shiell. Roberts, Hewitt, Feltham, Hampel, Hanley. (reps., all used:Hammer, Gorbell, Bredin)
Lewes are without a fixture on Saturday, their next match being away to Bromley on 26 January, k.o. 2.00pm.
Lewes 2nd's, also at home, fared better. Although their original fixture - a League match against Crawley - was cancelled at the last minute by their opponents, their Team Manager, Aidan Byrne, worked wonders to arrange a friendly against Uckfield (who should be congratulated for being able to put out a side at such short notice). However, the honours eventually went to Lewes's as they won an entertaining, and close, match by
31 - 28 with tries from Joel Evans, Calvin Jansz, Jordan Whiting, Josh Farr and Dan Billin (who also slotted over 3 conversions).Special mention was made to referee Liam Craig-Davies -and not just because he is a former Lewes player!