1st XV match report, Saturday 15th December @home to Seaford.
Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted Seaford RFC in the league.
The last time the two sides met, Seaford were victors 21-20 despite the All Blacks winning the try count 4-3.
The All Blacks had a good squad with the best set of finishers on the bench they had mustered all season.
Storm Deirdre had provided some of the worst conditions of the year with high winds and sideways rain on an already very sodden pitch.
Seaford played down the slope for the first half with the strong wind at their backs. They dominated proceedings for most of the half using their pack to gain ground before kicking for territory using the cultured boot of their fly half and full back.
Like the previous week the All Blacks showed tremendous defence and patience keeping the men from the Salts at bay. Flankers Jamie Dimelow and Ben Dewey wracked up a double figure tackle count during this period.
With 5 minutes left on the first half clock Seaford were 0-3 up through a penalty from their fly half.
The All Blacks then began to claw their way up field. The centre pairing of Jordan Sayers and John Rainima carried hard first of all. Then the front row of Jon Phillpot, Frankie Whittington and Paul Hasib picked and went inching further towards the Seaford line. The second row of Adam Rez and Joe Turner took the ball into the 22 area. The forwards then smelt blood and series of pick and goes saw Hasib crash over for the unconverted try on the stroke of half time to lead 5-3.
At half time the All Blacks looked both relieved and confident they could kick on and win the game.
After 5 minutes of the half the All Blacks started to introduce their stellar finishers. First hooker Andy Mackay came onto the field after 5 weeks out with an ankle injury. Next rampaging prop Lee Collingbourne came on for Hasib and finally after recently becoming a dad for the first time, the hot stepper himself, George Yeates took the field on the wing.
The finishers introduction combined with the slope gave the the All Blacks an immediate advantage and the men in black pounded the Seaford defence.
Seaford in reply could only give away penalties. Dead eye full back Alex Bone stepped up to extend the All Blacks score to 8-3 with a successful penalty attempt.
The men in black continued their tirade and a break out wide by Rainima and Yeates was carried on by the forwards where Mackay looked to have scored. Just to be sure however captain and No.8, Wattam picked up and swallow dived over the line for the score. Full back Alex Bone added the conversion, 16-3 with 20 minutes left of the game.
The All Blacks continued to dominate proceedings in the second half with the scrum now completely dominant they went on a 20 metre drive.
Despite the dominance the men from the Salts showed incredible defence with their open side flanker and inside centre showing incredible resilience.
The final score of the game came in the dying minute when a dominant scrum saw Wattam pick up and go blind before passing to Loz Daraio on the wing who in the conditions had been largely a spectator all afternoon. Loz had 15 metres to the line and 3 defenders to beat which he took in his stride stepping and standing up his opposite man before beating the cover defence to score in the corner. Bone added the touchline conversion to put the icing on the cake, 23-3.
The All Blacks were pleased with the win but a little disappointed they did not get the 4th and bonus point score especially after dominating the second half. In the end Deirdre was probably to blame.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match, winning a bottle of the world’s best wine, went to flanker Jamie Dimelow who was pushed all the way by his compatriot Ben Dewey.
The All Blacks now sit 3rd in the league 3 points behind Crawley with a game in hand. They are next in action on Saturday 5th January away to runaway league leaders Uckfield who they narrowly lost 5-6 to at home in October.