Image: Alex Glynne-Percy
Hes East Rugby ran out surprise winners against Vanbrugh courtesy of a late breakaway try in what was a hotly contested fixture to open both sides’ accounts for the season.
During a game in which momentum regularly see-sawed, both sides displayed rustiness typical of opening season clashes, but also plenty of ability and endeavour that should serve them well later in the season.
Hes East opened the try scoring through winger, Jack Staveley, who collected a bouncing ball from a speculative up-and-under to gallop away and dot down beneath the sticks. Garner-Jones added the extras to make it 7-0.
Vanbrugh dominated possession and territory across the following 20 minutes and were duly rewarded after captain Joe Nicholson hot-stepped his way through three tackles in the 22 to touch down for a converted try.
The men in purple continued to assert pressure with an extremely well-drilled rush defence that kept Hes East pinned back in their own half. This paid dividends after they forced a Hes East team, guilty perhaps of playing too much rugby on their own try line, to cough up possession within the 22, leading to a simple pickup and try for Vanbrugh, scored by Ben Groves. This was again converted to make the score 14-7.
In a shift of momentum, Hes East tightened up their game and made powerful inroads into the Vanbrugh half through the use of some beefy ball carriers around the fringes. After multiple phases of controlled build up, the ball was whipped wide to inside centre Will Jacques who thundered onto the ball to burrow over and give Hes East the opportunity to tie the game. Garner Jones put his pre-season kicking woes behind him with a beautiful strike from out wide to make it honours even at the break.
The second half was a more open and scrappy affair as the physicality and tempo of the first half began to take its toll. Both sides created some excellent chances but were unable to fully capitalise, making a stalemate appear inevitable.
Desperation turned into magic in the closing two minutes of the game. Before Vanbrugh’s defence could get set, Hes East’s Matt Metcalfe took a quick tap from a penalty on Vanbrugh’s ten-metre line and showed a powerful step off his right foot to ghost past three defenders to score a stunning individual try under the posts. Garner Jones converted the match winning try and Hes East held on as the clock ran out to secure an encouraging 21-14 win.
Man of the Match was awarded to Hes East centre and try scorer, Will Jacques.