BEST PERFORMANCE FOR MANY WEEKS SECURES BONUS-POINT
By DERECK Wade
LEWES 24 BECCEHAMIANS 35
In their best performance for many weeks, an improved Lewes side just lost out to third-place Beccehamians, but their hard-earned losing bonus-point was cancelled out by the relegation-threatened teams above them securing victories, meaning the Sussex club will need to start winning again if they are to avoid the drop.
The early pressure came from the visitors, scoring their first try of the match after 5 minutes when a move down the left flank was finished off by Bec's inside-centre, Ed Ashworth, the conversion attempt by fly-half Alex Warsop going wide, to see the Kent side take a 0 - 5 lead. But Lewes hit back 7 minutes later, their forwards winning the ball on half-way before passing out to outside-centre Harry Hanley to burst through under the posts, outside-half Dan Billin adding the extras, to see the hosts go in front at 7 - 5.
On 21 minutes, however, Bec's re-gained the advantage 7 - 12 when their loose-head prop George Tossell touched down for a try following a line-out, Warsop kicking the conversion. The closing session of the first half saw play evenly matched with the defences thwarting their opponents' attacks, but just before the half-time whistle - and somewhat against the run of play - the deadlock was broken when Bec's scrum-half, Peter Brooks, darted over in the right corner for an unconverted try to go in at the break 7 - 17 to the good.
The second half saw Lewes come more into the game, in spite of battling against a strong headwind and with Bec's heavier forwards and quick-running backs beginning to take the ascendant. On 45 minutes, Lewes' s more attacking style paid off as Hanley took up the ball inside his own half before sprinting fully 50 metres for a great try under the posts, Billin converting, to see Lewes pull closer at 14 - 17. But it took only another 5 minutes for Bec's to go further ahead at 14 - 24 with a push-over try from 5 metres out, Brooks darting over for his second - and his side's fourth - bonus-point try, converted by Warsop.
Two penalties followed against Lewes followed in quick succession which Warsop successfully kicked over to see his side pull away once more at 14 - 30, which became
14 - 35 two minutes later when their outside-centre Paul Broadhurst touched down for an unconverted try. But then came the Lewes fight-back as their younger team (which included two 17 year-olds) - assisted by the return of stalwart back-rower Tom Tudor from the bench - began to run at their opponents who were by now visibly tiring. In an exciting finale to a thoroughly entertaining match, Lewes scored 2 more (but unconverted) tries: one from scrum-half Tom Rourke, the other from Hanley, completing a well-deserved hat-trick. Although Bec's were reduced to 14 men with minutes remaining after Broadhurst was yellow-carded for a high tackle, they managed to hold out until the final whistle for a 24 - 35 victory.
A significant improvement by Lewes but still not enough to ease their relegation fears, which makes Saturday's match away to fellow strugglers Park House perhaps the vital point of their season to date.
Lewes: Bacha, Wakely, Williams, Omar, Curl, Dodgson, Moule (Capt.), Robinson, Rourke, Billin, Furlong, Whiting, Hanley, Feltham, Shiell. (Reps.- Rankin, Tudor, Jones).
Lewes 2nd's returned to winning ways with a fine 17 - 22 away victory at St. Leonards, their tries coming via Lewis Austin (2), Jack Nicholson, and Joe Hempel, with Caolan Quinn adding a conversion. On Saturday the 2nd's entertain Crawley, k.o. 3.0pm.