Hove made their longest away trip of the season to Deal & Betteshanger off the back of an indifferent performance albeit getting the win against OA’s last week. With unavailability’s and injuries, Hove fielded a back line with five changes from the previous week. Jerome Pye and Alex Parker were at 9 & 10. Sam Whiting standing in as captain for the day was joined in the centres by ‘The’ Joe Burrows. Max Marshall, Tom Holborn and Bryn Garrish made up the back three. In the forwards Declan Peake, Chris Knott and Ryan Storer made up the front row, Ade Shergold shifted to lock with Ian Saunders joining him. Tom Watson made his debut in the 7 jersey with Toby Brown and Rob Ward completing the Hove XV.
Hove kicked off down the hill deep into Deal territory which was returned to around half way. The majority of the first 10 minutes was played in the middle of the park with no side really getting a foothold in the game. Hove won a couple of early penalties at the scrum which failed to materialise into anything more than field position. Deal won their own penalty at the scrum which was kicked to the corner. After keeping it tight, Hove’s defence finally buckled as a Deal player ran unopposed through the ruck. Conversion good 7-0. Hove won a penalty on half way which captain Whiting nudged over 7-3.
Hove struggled to get any real phases together and this was compounded with the lineout misfiring for much of the afternoon. A Deal kick through was misjudged by Bryn Garrish and Tom Holborn was caught holding on. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner. The Deal 8 went to work and drove over the Hove line. Again the conversation was true; 14-3. A Deal yellow card provided Hove with the opening to get into the game, however with a faltering lineout good field position was again lost. HT 14-3.
A few choice words from coach Jack Newton at HT looked to be the kick up the backside Hove needed, however it was Deal who came out the blocks fastest scoring in front of the jubilant home fans. Conversion again true 21-3. Further indiscretion from Hove resulted in another Deal penalty which was gratefully accepted 24-3.
Hove shuffled their side with Lloyd Tullet and George Brown coming on. Tullet was into the game immediately nudging on a loose Deal pass which Whiting picked up, however the Deal defender did well to hold him up. From the resultant 5M scrum, Whiting again had a dart, but again the ref adjudged him to be held up. It was third time lucky as a great offload from Alex Parker put Lloyd Tullet over in the corner. Conversion sailed just wide 24-8.
This should have been the catalyst for a Hove rally, however again it was Deal who added further points. A break from their number 8 followed by deft offload allowed the supporting player a free run under the sticks. Conversion again good 31-8. A further Deal penalty added to Hove woe’s as the game started to slip away; 34-8.
Late yellow cards to Saunders and Pye compounded Hove’s miserable afternoon with the home side running out comfortable winners in the end.
A tough day at the office for Hove not helped by the vast personnel changes left more questions than answers for the coaches. Next week Hove renew acquaintances with Charlton Park and will know they will need to be far better than this to come away with the spoils.