SAD FINALE FOR LEWES
By DERECK Wade
LEWES 25 PULBOROUGH 40
As with most of Lewes's games in the second half of the season, a valiant effort was in vain as they lacked the firepower to prevent another defeat - with only minutes to go, Lewes (playing in red) were still in touch, but 2 late tries from the visitors somewhat flattered the overall result.
An early mistake by the hosts was seized upon by Pulborough's left-winger who collected a loose ball before sprinting down the left touchline for an unconverted try to open the scoring at 0 - 5. But Lewes attacked from the re-start and then won a line-out inside their opponents' 22 metre zone which enabled skipper Eliot Moule to score a try near the posts, outside-half Dan Billin kicking over the conversion to see the hosts take the lead at 7 - 5. The next 20 minutes saw the match evenly balanced, with the majority of play in the middle of the pitch. The deadlock was broken on the half-hour when a Pulborough offside offence saw Billin slot over the resultant penalty kick from 35 metres out to extend the lead to 10 - 5.
Only 2 minutes later Pulborough re-gained the lead at 10 - 12 with a converted try under the posts from their No. 12, but it took Lewes less than 1 minute to fight back with another Billin penalty to make it 13 - 12. Just when Lewes thought they were going into the half-time break with the advantage, a last-second break through the middle by the visitors' forwards resulted in their out-side half touching down for a try under the posts, which he also converted, to go in 13 - 19 up.
This became 13 - 26 on 54 minutes courtesy of Pulborough's No. 8 scoring his side's fourth, bonus-point try after a tap-penalty in front of the posts - although the home crowd were convinced he had dropped the ball before touching down! The conversion saw Pulborough with what now looked like a commanding lead. However, from the re-start, a great drive forward from Lewes's much-improved pack was rewarded with replacement flanker Tom Hatch scoring a fine try, Billin adding the extras, to draw closer at 20 - 26. Five minutes later Pulborough again stretched out their lead at 20 - 33 with a converted try from their No. 8 - his second - only for Lewes's replacement prop-forward Sean Sayers to respond with an unconverted try to make it 25 - 33.
Pulborough finished off the match in the dying seconds when their hooker ended a strong forward drive for a converted try to run out winners by 25 - 40.
So ended a disappointing season for Lewes, which started so well, but was then sent off course by the permanent retirement due to injuries of 3 of their senior players, followed at the mid-season break by another 3 key players moving to Australia to play rugby in the southern hemisphere. This - combined with other injuries and non-availabilities at key times - resulted in Lewes using some 71 players in their 1st XV squad - a situation not conducive to consistent performances, and which no doubt contributed to their eventual relegation.. The only positive element was that many Under 17/18, players played for the Senior team, which should augur well for the Club when they embark on next season's Sussex League 1.
Lewes: Hill, Wakely, Williams, Lowen, Evans, Moule (Capt.), Dodgson, Robinson, Jones, Billin, Shiell, Whiting, Quinn, Feltham, Hanley. (Reps., all used: Sayers, Hatch, Austin).
After match, the 2nd XV awards were made to the following:
Player of the Year - Tom Petty
Players' Player of the Year - Jamie Austen
Most Improved Player - Lewis Austin
(the Mens' 1st XV and Ladies/Girls awards will be presented later this year).
On Sunday, Lewes RFC held their ever-popular Mini's Festival, attended by some 40 teams comprising players at all age groups between Under 6 - Under 12, and was a great day for the Club, players, families and supporters alike.
After the Mini's Festival, the Club received many tributes,including from one set of parents:
“Well done to everyone who put on today’s festival. Certainly that the best one we’ve attended so far. A particularly big thank you to you Jo, Mike and Dan.”
And from Burgess Hill Rugby Club:
"I have also been asked to pass on some feedback on your festival from our coaches who were there yesterday. In brief this was by far the best organised and managed festival our minis have attended this year, and from what I have heard, the most enjoyable. Congratulations.
Thanks to you and all others at Lewes who put the effort into organising this festival on and we look forward to taking part again next season".
This Sunday, Lewes Ladies 2nd XV make the long trip to Derby to play Cannock Ladies in the National Junior Cup Final, k.o. 2.30pm.
The Club wish them every success and hope for a win which would round off a great season for the girls.