Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC, the Sussex All Blacks got the 20017-18 season underway by hosting Bognor RFC in two matches played in quarters.
Both clubs had more than 40 players on show with the first XVs on pitch 1 and 2nd XVs on pitch 2.
Sporting new playing shirts the All Blacks had to order increased sizes for their cuddlier members Hasib and Collingbourne.
The Sussex All Blacks knew it was going to be a stern test for the club as both of Bognor teams played at higher levels last season.
On pitch 1 the 1st XV took to the pitch vs a huge Bognor team. Their pack were at least a stone heavier as well as 3 inches taller a man. The All Blacks team included 2 club debutants as well as players who had returned from Uni with worthless degrees and £50k in debt.
At the first scrum of the game the Bognor pack showed their power as they drove the All Blacks pack backwards much to the shock of the crowd who are used to the black pack dominating their opposition. It turns out Hasib was snacking at the time.
The Bognor backs through their pacey half backs and large centres were also making good ground. Despite the early onslaught however the All Blacks defence looked steeley strong holding out wave after wave of attack.
Around the 10 minute mark the pendulum swung and the All Blacks began to assert themselves. The back row of captain and No.8 Dave Wattam along with Jordan Sayers (he was never a centre was he) and Jamie Dimelow were everywhere in attack and defence turning over ball at will and carrying before offloading to supporting runners. One such break up field saw the ball grubber kicked by full back Liam Hopwood (sick note) which was knocked on by Bognor. At the scrum 10 metres out from the line the black pack came alive and drove their mountainous opposition backwards towards the line. After being marched back 10 metres the Bognor No.8 killed the ball and the referee awarded the penalty try, 7-0.
The All Blacks were now in the ascendency and were rampaging through the middle with their mobile pack (exc the 2 props wearing 5xl shirts) and were spraying it wide to their pacey backline. Within 3 minutes following a break in midfield by Sayers the ball was spun wide where centre pairing Rhys Clarke and John Rainima passed to Hopwood coming into the line who in turn passed to teenage winger Mathues Gava who using his bryl cream from his hair squeezed into the corner for the score. Clarke narrowly missed the extras, 12-0.
With the last play of the quarter, the All Blacks were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks which Clarke added to take the score to 15-0.
The All Blacks made some changes in the second quarter which disrupted proceedings a little for 10 minutes and during this period Bognor pilled on the pressure and it was only for heroic like defence by the likes of Hopwood (I know we were surprised too!), Rainima and second row pairing Tim Daniel and Adam Rez that kept Bognor out. After 10 minutes it began to settle a bit with both teams playing some free flowing rugby.
At half back debutant Bone Matemosa and Rich Fleming were starting to gel and the pack once more was dominating the set piece with hooker Andy Mackay showing good technique in the tight and great hands in the lose. The quarter ended with no score.
The second half was played as a half as opposed to quarters, 5/8ths or any other fraction and once more the All Blacks were on the back foot for the first 20 minutes with the Bognor No.8 and centres getting through a load of work.
Once more however the All Blacks defence was calm and collected off the ball and sucked up the pressure. One such period of defence resulted in a knock on by Bognor in the All Blacks 22, which Clarke pounced on and pinned his ears back. His turn of pace saw him race into the Bognor half before and exquisite tap tackle felled him in full flight. At the ruck, Rez took the ball on another few metres before the ball was recycled and spun wide by Sam David now back on at scrum half. Fleming passed to Dimelow who passed to Sayers who passed to Hopwood who passed to Luke Rokova on the wing who stepped 3 defenders (in a Matrix style slow motion scene) before scoring under the posts. Fleming stole the ball from Clarke and added the extras 22-0. Clarke was given a lolly and Fleming a time out.
The All Blacks continued to press for the last 10 minutes of the half with the ball moving very well between backs and forwards. The final score of the game came once more from a break in midfield from the back row that saw the ball spun wide. Clarke created a gap before playing in his centre partner Rainima who off loaded in contact to Rokova who swan dived into the corner earning 5 points and an 9.2 from Tom Daley. Fleming had not yet learnt the concept of sharing and converted from the touchline to end the game 29-0.
With half of the first team squad unavailable due to the time of year this was a very impressive run out by the men in black. MoM was jointly one by full back Liam Hopwood and flanker Jamie Dimelow who both played their best games in a black shirt.
At the end of the game Hasib and Collingbourne road off into the sunset on their new Harleys.
On pitch 2, Bognor 2s who played 2 levels higher than the All Blacks second team last season ran away with 0-28 win against an All Blacks side sporting a number of debuts.
Next Saturday the All Blacks host Bancroft from Essex in their second pre-season fixture KO 2:30pm. Already winger Mathues Gava is getting excited at the prospect of seeing other well groomed men.
If anyone would like to play rugby for the Sussex All Blacks who field 3 senior teams, a womens team, occasional vets and full mini and juniors, please contact Director of Rugby, Ross Hallifax on 07941 016836 / firstname.lastname@example.org
|August 19, 2017||2:00 pm||Harvey's of Sussex 1||2017-2018|