Hove came into the game knowing that a bonus point win would secure a playoff spot, a win without a bonus point would mean that Hove would have to hope Charlton Park didn't close a 120-odd points difference gap and failing to win would take the play-off completely out of our hands. Deal started the day in 10th knowing that they were well out of reach of the relegation zone, but a win could see them leapfrog Heathfield into 9th.
Hove kicked off the first half playing west-to-east and Deal started off the stronger side, taking an early 3-0 lead. Hove eventually settled down and started playing better patterns, scoring 4 tries in a first half. Rene Pavlides scoring 2 and setting up one had a strong impact on the left wing, and outside centre Phil Dugard also finished the half with 2. Carles kicked 3 of his 4 conversions, and 2 more penalties for Deal meant that the teams swapped ends at 26-9.
The second half started in forgettable fashion for Hove as Gibraltarian international Luke Torres saw yellow for leading with his forearm into contact and making contact with the neck of the would be tackler. The sin-bin period did not prove costly for Hove, as the defence held firm and Carles managed to score and convert his own try in this 10 minute period.
With a comfortable 24-point lead, Hove started to ring the changes with Jack Silcocks, Adi Shergold and Ryan Morlen all getting on early in the second half. Hove finished the game with a further 3 tries, Phil Dugard completing his hattrick and Rob Ward and Pat Andrews getting on the board for the forwards. All 3 tries were converted by Carles to give him 7 from 8 and 19 points on the day, and Hove a 54-9 win.
Our thanks to Deal for playing their part in a good game of rugby. They voted Rene Pavlides as our man of the match - his two tries and an assist in a 10 minute spell in the first half putting Hove firmly in the driving seat on the day.
Elsewhere, Charlton Park picked up a try bonus point win of their own away at Old Alleynians, so Hove's win preserved our 6 point advantage and kept us out of reach in second, with Charlton Park still to play Deal in a rearranged fixture.
The play-off game has been confirmed with Hove hosting Old Reigatians at 3pm on 21 April for a place in London 1 South. Hove host the game by way of a marginally superior record over the 22 league games. Both teams finished on 82 points, but Hove had a higher number of wins and a better points difference.
The team and the club would love to see as many fans as possible down to cheer on the boys one more time. The weather is set fair for the weekend, the bar will be open and we will have what promises to be a fantastically competitive game of rugby on the pitch.