St Leonards CP 7
Ports faced their local rivals as the wind and rain swept in across the William Parker pitch.
From the off the weather was the clear controlling force and both sides spilled the ball. Rye played sensibly within the conditions but Chopper Gooders, Chris Perry and Mike Hutchins all made important tackles while Matt Standen, Ash Mountain and the mercurial Gooders all made yards with strong running.
The game settled into a series of scrums, Jody Freeman, Colin Whyte and Tom Monks all providing a strong platform. Kim Wan provided more of the same when he came on in the second half.
The scrum was a solid platform, Sion Hughes-Gage drove well from the base of the scrum after his addition to the field after the first of many injuries befell Ports. Tom Ingram, Morgan Pearce, Henry Hill and Standen would all leave the field injured.
The scrum provided real defence, a key scrum against the head relieving the pressure for Ports. Murray Warman also intervened when a kick ahead almost gave Rye a score.
Hill was a steadying presence with the boot and when in territory Whyte drove well at the line and Warman was unlucky not to score in the corner. Rye looked to counter attack and a quickly taken penalty drove them forward before another spillage was swooped on by Warman, he was close to the line but fed Luke Barningham who dived over. The nerveless Barningham slotted the conversion.
Barningham was a safe presence throughout and defended solidly. Ports looked to have turned the half in front, but a well worked scrum move saw them over and level.
Injuries left Ports looking very different in the second half, Mountain still carried selflessly and the recently introduced Max Olujobi was dangerous. At one point the quick-stepping winger made his way through six tacklers. Rye drove the ball well, a penalty gave them the lead and a well worked line-out extended that lead. Another penalty gave the game a one sided complexion but Ports fought back.
Barningham was an evasive runner and Olujobi also gave Ports impetus. Colin Adey crashed the ball forward too but Rye was solid in defence and despite the best efforts of Gooders and playmaker Hutchins the gaps could not be found.
Despite the conditions a number of players still shone. Perry was a strong carrier, and an awkward presence in defence. Barningham continued his recent excellent form with a great counter-attacking performance but E-Heat man of the match was Gooders. The flanker tackled fearlessly, and was a dancing runner unlucky not to find the line.
15 Hutchins 14 Warman (Adey) 13 Pearce (Olujobi) 12 Standen (Barrowclough) 11 L Barningham 10 Hill (Hall) 9 Hall (Davie) 1 Freeman 2 Whyte 3 Monks (Wan) 4 Perry 5 Mountain 6 Scriven (C Barningham) 7 Gooders 8 Ingram (Hughes-Gage) Sub Not Used Wright