The Acorns travelled to Eastbourne to contest a highly anticipated clash between two teams pushing for promotion to London South East 3.
Eastbourne were looking to right their result from last week, having lost narrowly to Burgess Hill. While Uckfield were eager to end 2018 with another victory and end the year on a high.
The Acorns made a number of changes to the match day squad with a fresh bench and the welcomed return after a long absence of winger Harvey Stonebridge.
During the warm up it became clear that the biggest factor to the game ahead would not be any of the players or the referee but the weather conditions, as kick off approached it worsened with exceptionally strong, bitterly cold winds and heavy rain. The conditions were only to get more extreme as the match progressed making running expansive rugby pretty unlikely.
From kick off, Uckfield decided to play immediately with width, with returning lock Harry Harper-Dowe making good ground in the Uckfield half before the back line was released for Full Back, Lee Evans, to take the pass wide on the left. Beating 4 defenders we took off, racing some 40 meters to score within the opening minute of the game. The conversion was added by consistent Fly-Half, Charlie Buckland.
The game then went back and forth until Eastbourne themselves broke from within there own half, with their outside centre racing over to score. The conversion from out wide was missed. The game broke down to a number of scrums and difficult line outs due to the weather conditions. 15 minutes in, Uckfield were penalised for not rolling away from a collapsed maul 20 meters out, resulting in the Eastbourne Fly-Half adding the 3 points and giving his team a narrow lead. The half continued to be a hugely frustrating affair for Uckfield trying to play too much rugby than the conditions could allow. There were some outstanding defensive efforts from Tom Wilding, Dom Scott and Buckland.
At half time, Uckfield retreated to the locker room to warm up and work out the frustrations of the first half. After some honest words and introspection, Uckfield returned to the field with a renewed hunger to play more suitable rugby and take the game to Eastbourne. The improvement was marked from start of the second half. Uckfield were awarded a penalty after 6 minutes but the shot sailed wide in the strong winds. The Acorns continued to press the Eastbourne team, with the pack working hard in the loose to drive them back. Davy Armstrong after a very quite first half was showing a lot more energy and desire in both the loose and at scrum time working well with front row veteran Adam Palmer.
At 65 minutes, after a succession of quick rucks, Matthew Evans picked a good line off scrum half Jack Newcome to bust through the defensive line and slid in for the try.
12-8 to Uckfield.
The conversion was missed meaning that in the last 15 minutes, both teams had reason to keep playing as much as possible in the bitter cold.
Uckfield closed out the game exceptionally well. Keeping ball in hand, Buckland and L Evans kicking well to pin Eastbourne deep in there own 22.
With the conditions worsening and both teams having a number of casualties and walking wounded, the final whistle gave the players and supporters an opportunity to retreat to the club house to warm up.
Uckfield will enjoy a good break now before resuming the challenge ahead in January. The team are determined and focused on pushing forward, improving and most importantly enjoying their rugby as much in 2019 as they have in 2018.