Uckfield travelled to Eastbourne on Saturday looking to continue their improving home form having beaten both Burgess Hill and Crawley at Hempstead Fields in the previous two games, writes Gordon Buckland.
The Acorns were forced into making a number of personnel and positional changes due to injuries and unavailability.
Adam Palmer coming in at Prop allowed Nat Humphreys to move to the back row. Gregg Chappel and Matt De Souza returned to a rejigged backline and youngster Sean Bate started on the Wing after a strong performance off the bench against Crawley.
Up the hill
Uckfield lost the toss and Eastbourne decided to play up the hill the first half.
Apart from a disastrous kick off from Charlie Buckland, the momentum was soon with Uckfield.
Playing in the right parts of the pitch, the first opportunity came after only a couple of minutes. With open space in front of him Humphreys dropped the near-perfect pass as he caught white line fever. It didn’t take much longer however, until front rower Davy Armstrong showed the hips and side step of a winger, beating three defenders to crash over for the first try.
Uckfield continued to dominate territory and possession, having a number of opportunities but being a bit sloppy with the final pass.
On the 12 minute mark, after a number of phases through the forwards, Matt Evans saw a gap to beat one defender to score the second try. 10-0 to Uckfield.
It took another 15 minutes to cross the line again. Following a string of penalty offensives by Eastbourne, Buckland kicked to the corner, and from the resulting line out, the front five pulled tight and marched over the line. This time Humphreys didn’t disappoint. 15-0.
At half time Uckfield knew a struggle was ahead due to the advantage the slopping pitch gave the attacking side.
Eastbourne came out of the blocks quickly, playing some good rugby.
They scored their first try within a couple of minutes. They continued to use the hill and the wind well before scoring their second try on 50 minutes. 15-12, Uckfield needed a response.
Almost immediately, Uckfield had their chance. A scrum on the Bourne 22 led to M Evans going blind and putting Bate in for a well taken score. Again, the conversion was missed meaning only 20-12.
Eastbourne did score again following some powerful running from their outside centre down the wing resulting in the game being 20-17.
With ten minutes to go, lock Harry Harper-Dowe nicked Eastbourne line out. Quick hands in the backline gave Charlie Buckland the space to put Chappell into the smallest of gaps which he accelerated through to score under the posts. 27-17 with ten minutes to go.
Eastbourne immediately responded again with a few minutes left to make the final score 24-27 but the final minutes were controlled well by Uckfield.
The Acorns, while pleased with the victory were disappointed by the performance in the second half. Eastbourne played good rugby, physical and in the sprint of the game. An enjoyable afternoon for players and supporters alike.
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