Saturday afternoon saw the blue and golds kick off their season at home to Uckfield RFC. 1st Team Manager, Aidy Norwood alongside Head Coach Steve Clark have been working hard with a young inexperienced group of players during pre-season to prepare for the season ahead. Unfortunately for Eastbourne their inexperience showed early on with a penalty for offside in front of the posts after 5 mins which was slotted home by the Uckfield fly half. Norwood’s men, led on the pitch by Tom Redman responded well and spent the next 10 minutes camped in the Uckfield half however handling errors and a lack of depth in the running lines enabled a well drilled Uckfield defence to clear their lines. Following an altercation on the half way line Tom Shuttleworth was shown a yellow card and Uckfield capitalised on the resulting pressure converting another penalty in front of the posts.
Despite heading into half time behind on the scoreboard Eastbourne had the majority of the ball and Uckfield didn’t look like threatening Eastbourne’s try line. Eastbourne started the second half well and confidence appeared to be increasing. The pack were starting to show some dominance over their bigger counterparts and some powerful carries from man of the match, James Smith seemed to inspire the back line who were showing signs of their potential. Eastbourne’s first try of the season could well end up being the most stylish of the season. Quick hands from Mo Rakham at 9 allowed the ball to dance through the hands to Carl Slaughter who had run a devastating line to score in the corner. Ring slotted home a very tricky kick in testing windy conditions and Eastbourne took the lead.
It was now Uckfield’s turn to enjoy some sustained time in Eastbourne’s 22 and only some excellent tackling kept them at bay from the try line. Uckfield eventually managed to convert their pressure into points scoring a try in the right corner which was well converted. With ten minutes to go Eastbourne showed the kind of spirit and resilience that can only encourage the supporters of what may come during the season. The more experienced, physically bigger Uckfield side were showing signs of panic as the blue and golds entrenched themselves in the opposing sides 22 and on another day would have certainly reaped the rewards of this pressure with a try. As it was Uckfield managed to resist and were thankful to hear the referees final whistle and take the victory 7-13. Despite the obvious disappointment there are many positives to take forward into the rest of the season.