Burgess Hill Under 14s played their first home league game against an unknown East Grinstead team.
The match started quickly with both sides proving that they could both run straight and tackle hard.
It was the visitors who struck first using their powerful forwards to drive into the Hill half. Hill counter rucking was ferocious and the ball was won back but a knock on gave a scrum to EG. A strong no.8 run created a ruck in front of the posts and repeated pick and drives resulted in a score to East Grinstead. The conversion was successful and it was 7-0.
Hill proved their metal and struck back with some accurate interplay play and good hands. The outside centre Clyde yet again showing great strength, handing off his opposite number, off-loaded to winger Bennett who in turn passed back to Clyde on the wrap around to score in the corner. The conversion was very wide out and full back Rogers strike was very close not did not quite make it. 7-5 to EG.
Both teams set about each other with direct runs, brutal tackling and great ruck and counter ruck work.
There was some superb defense by all the boys but hooker Clegg and open side Upton put in some fantastic tackles, stopping opponents dead in their tracks and earning them both joint “Forward of the Match”.
The half time whistle went with no further score and Hill definitely felt the game was there for the taking.
Unfortunately, East Grinstead had other ideas and with some swift handling and direct drives close to the ruck, the Hill fringe defense was found wanting too many times and G’s broke the All Black line for 2 quick scores that were converted.
Hill reacted well and fought back with some electric runs from Fly-half Larder and superb smashes by inside centre Baker who’s work rate earned him “Back of the Match”.
With the score at 28-5, Gs were clearly feeling comfortable and the pressure was starting to tell on the All Blacks. Yet another East Grinstead break from close into the ruck and a superb break down the touch line resulted in another try. The conversion was missed giving a score of 33-5.
The last 5 mins Hill suffered a few injuries and despite a great first game for the A team by Collingbourne, Nelson, Dale and Kyalo, Grinstead scored a last minute try and with the conversion, brought the final score to 40-5.
Whilst slightly downhearted with a score line that did not really reflect the game, the All Blacks know that they can work on positional defensive plays and improve for next time.
Yet again coaches and parents were immensely proud of all the boys who pulled on the All Black shirt.