Burgess Hill Under 14s Away (International) Match Vs Guernsey
Sponsored by Southern Recovery Ltd and Quench.

Burgess Hill flew out of Gatwick airport, on a wet and windy morning, full of excitement and confidence. Landing slightly late the Hillians travelled on a bus (that would not be out of place in a transport museum) to the Guernsey ground for the first A team match of the second half of the Waterfall season.

Not having played each other for a few years, both sides were unsure of the opposition so there were definitely some nerves on show.

The Guernsey boys tried to intimidate with a loud and rowdy call to battle. However, the Hillians are already battle hardened and the shouts of the greens only served to rouse the blood of the All Blacks.

Guernsey kicked off with the wind behind them and Hill fielded the ball well and set up a quick ruck. Two quick pick and drives created an opportunity for a run down the blind and Hill were on the front foot.

Another quick ruck and scrum half Collingbourne passed to Larder at flyhalf just inside the Hill half. A “show and go” by Larder and the Guernsey defenders were the ones still asleep as the fly half burst through the gap. Taking on the full back, Larder proved his pace and pulled away to score under the posts. Full back Rogers took the conversation and the All Blacks were 0-7 up after just 4 mins.

This was the perfect start for Hillians as the larger Guernsey pack with their rangy no. 8 upped the tempo and started to push into Hill. Hill are made of stern stuff and tackling was solid and aggressive.

With the ball in hand Hill were also pushing the boys in green and the pack were picking and driving round the ruck making ground and punching holes in the Guernsey defences. However, when Guernsey kept the ball in hand they drove hard into the Hill 22. Hill conceded a penalty and the ball was kicked to the corner.

Unluckily for Guernsey, the throw in was not straight and Hill were let off. The scrum resulted in some strong drives down the line and the All Blacks pushing Guernsey back.

It was from a good quick ruck that Hill forced a penalty and a quick tap and go and the ball was passed right to Bennett on the wing. All he needed is a small amount of space and he was away leaving his winger and the tracking full back in his wake as he scored under the posts. The conversion missed as the wind picked up so Hill moved to 0-12 lead.

This clearly spurred Guernsey on as they picked up their passing game for the last 10 minutes of the half. Hills tackling remained strong and the ball was lost forward by Guernsey and Hill ran it back. Just as the advantage was over Hill gave an intercept pass and it looked like we were in for Guernseys first points.

Not one to leave the backs to tackle, front row Edin stormed across the pitch and even after the Guernsey winger had crossed the line, the All Black tackle smashed him into touch. Try saved and Hill had the 22m drop out.

Maybe the excitement of saving the try caused a laps in concentration as from the 22m kick, the Guernsey full back fielded the kick well. The Hillian kick chase had a small dog leg in its structure and Guernsey exploited it well and passed and dummied the defenders. Despite a last-ditch tackle, the try was scored and Guernsey were back in the match. The conversion missed to make it 5-12 to Hill.

From the kick off, Hill pushed up field and ended up being forced into touch. The Guernsey line out and line clearance was a bit relaxed and they gave the ball back to Hill. Running it back there was a high tackle on an All Black and yet another penalty. The ball to the corner was a good call and the scrappy line out ball was passed down the line only for a dropped ball and the end of the half.

Half time and Hill made sure all players who were on the side line were swapped in and with new blood on the pitch, Hill started well. Hill immediately put the pressure on Guernsey and forced the hurried kick out of the 22m. Winger Simonet fielded the ball and took the contact with full back Miller now starting to get into the game. Picking and driving and making ground the ball was recycled and passed to the backs. Unfortunately, the move went sideways and ended up with a knock on.

The match continued with both sides defence remaining strong and attacks being repulsed each time. It was during one such attack that a Guernsey player was firmly tackled and suffered an injury to his shoulder. The match had 15 mins left and was in danger of being abandoned but the Guernsey player was able to be moved and taken to see the medics. (The player unfortunately suffered a fractured collarbone. All at BHRFC wish him a speedy recovery)

The match continued to be closely fought with eventual Back of the Match Rogers making both incisive runs and solid tackles and the Hill kings of defence were the back row with joint Forward of the Match being flanker Upton and no. 8 H. Baker.

One such move brought Hill close to a score. More fast ball lead to possession in the Guernsey half and the back line passed to winger Lessacher who pinned his ears back and went for it. Breaking one tackle he powered on only to be tackled inches short of the line. Trying to then lunge for the line Lessacher was adjudged to have made a double movement. However, Hillians had their tails up.

The last 5 mins was becoming tense with Hill smelling victory but with the hosts desperate to get the win. Guernsey continued to put the pressure on Hill and perhaps getting a bit excited committed one too many high tackles and the Ref gave a yellow card. As often happens this seemed to galvanise the home team more and the last 3 mins were spent in the Hill 22m area.

Attack after attack by Guernsey was repelled and ball stolen by Upton the Jackal but Hill struggled to get out of their 22m without making an error.

With only a few seconds left on the clock Guernsey were awarded a scrum and it was all hands to the pump. The Hill scrum was solid all day and still put on the squeeze to make the ball difficult for the green scrum half. The ball was fumbled and the back row harried the back line and the Guernsey back line dropped the ball for the knock on and that was it. No scores in the second half to leave Hill victors at 7-12 in a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable match.

Next week the All Blacks are back at Poveys Close Vs Pulborough for an 11am kick off.

Thanks to our sponsors for their assistance and the travelling supporters – despite the “dry bar” – for their vocal assistance.

Squad:
MacAlister, Clegg, Edlin, Watts, Nelson, Kyalo, Upton, H Baker, Collingbourne, Larder, Miller, A Baker, Granger, Bennett, Rogers, Cowle, Attwater, Lessacher, Simonet, Dale. 
Special mention to P Hovell who travelled with his squad mates despite being unable to play after recovering from an operation.