Burgess Hill travelled to Hastings to play on the Cliffside pitch overlooking the coast in what was a perfect day for rugby firm underfoot but slightly overcast.
Burgess Hill made 10 changes to the side that beat Crowborough the previous week many enforced through injury in both first and second teams thus giving Lewis Hopkins his first opportunity to play in the second team. Hill started the brighter of the two sides in what was to be a fast game throughout with both teams using the expanse of the large pitch to try and break the deadlock. Despite the brighter start Hill found themselves on the wrong side of the posts as Hastings cleverly turned over the ball and run it in from half way which they successfully converted 7-0 .
Hill’s first opportunity came moments later as they found themselves with a three man overlap only for Hastings to scramble themselves and wrap on the ball in midfield and win in back through some aggressive counter rucking . Is was Hills 8 that turned the tables with a clean break beating 4 defenders on his way to crossing the line conversion missed 7-5. For the next 10 minutes Hastings pressured Hills line to find themselves frustrated at every turn as Hill counter rucked turning over several balls. Hill then found themselves pressuring the line only for Hastings to clear the line with a big kick downfield which they then turned over again running in another try converted 14-5.
It was Hill’s turn to turn over the ball next as Jake Roberts intercepted the ball and run in the ball next to the posts again unconverted 14-10. Hill continued with the pressure running the ball through the hands with man of the match Gavin Twinn squeezing in at the corner again unconverted 14-15.
Half time saw several changes allowing fresh legs to replace those feeling the effects of the frenetic first 40 minutes . As the second half commenced Hastings piled on the pressure setting up camp in Hills 22 for much of the first 20 minutes with only fingertip defence saving Hill at times . During this frenetic time Hill made two other changes as bodies where left lying were they fell.
Despite this time spent by Hastings attacking it was Hill who crossed the line first as they won a penalty just 5 yards out with srum half Andy Cook feeding skipper Butcher to crash over again unconverted. 14-20. With still 10 minutes on the clock Hill found themselves on the end of Hastings consistent attack with there centre breaking through from the 10 metre line running for the corner and only last moment defence stopping them running in under the posts . Eventually touching down half way between the posts and the touch line , Hastings already converted two from a similar position were confident only to find in skimming across the front of the posts 19-20 . The last 5 minutes saw both sides throwing everything into the game with Hastings going wide at every opportunity only to be thwarted . As the final whistle went both sides knew that they could have not put anymore into the game and that either could have walked away the victor.
The result leaves Hill second in the league on points difference having only lost a single game as have Eastbourne.
Next week Hill entertain Brighton at home and the week after sees them travel back to Hastings in the semi final of the Sussex vase in a repeat of this week’s epic encounter.