“This is the first time I’ve come here and been able to see the sea.” So said the affable chap from Park House, beer in hand and, evidently, channel in sight. The skies were indeed clear but there was a sod of a wind and, on the field, Hastings and their visitors served up a brutal, bruising battle whose result was in doubt almost until the final minute.
Hastings could proudly lay claim to being top of the table before the match started. They started with a game against Bromley last week (which they won) whilst the rest of the division only got going today. As is usual at this level the pre-match conversation from all directions was how many players were missing from both teams. I swear, if you believe the talk every week, no team can ever start a match with fifteen fit players they’d be happy to call a first team. No matter, both sides were well drilled and the match was tight as a drum. It helped that the ref missed a lot for both sides so there was a tasty edge to proceedings throughout.
Hastings opened the scoring with a well run-in try and had a narrow advantage, 10-8, at the break. Park House play a solid, up-front game, and frequently looked like they might break through but they never were able to, either on the field or on the scoreboard. They held a slight 16-15 advantage going into the dying stages and had a favourable wind but it was Hastings who added two late tries to take the points. They also grabbed a second bonus point in two games and so can still lay claim to leading the division.
There was a decent number of folk enjoying the spectacle and, thankfully, the threatened rain held off. This was a damn enjoyable and competitive encounter. I took some woeful photos of it here.