Cranleigh 20 vs 11 Burgess Hill
Match report – Sat 18th November
2nd round of RFU National Junior Vase
Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks travelled to Cranleigh in Surrey in the 2nd round of the RFU National Junior Vase.
The All Blacks arrived a little late after going on a magical mystery tour of the Surrey countryside that saw 1 player arrive after KO.
The All Blacks squad welcomed back a few forwards including back rower Eddie Chekera and prop Jon Phillpot. The backs are feeling the injuries this season with 7 players currently out injured and were trying out combinations across the squad.
The pre match talk was on avoiding the hungry hippo breakdown play the week before that saw a string of breakdown penalties.
Deep into Movember the squad included some terrible examples of facial hair with hooker Andy Mackay looking like a spit of Cleveland Brown from Family Guy.
Cranleigh started the game at an incredible pace using their large pack and lighting quick wingers to make inroads into the All Blacks defence. After 3 minutes of play the ball was passed down the wing to their pacey winger.
All Blacks full back Loz Daraio looked like he was going in to shake the wingers hand and was felled with a handoff and that saw the winger run in and under the posts. The Cranleigh full back added the extras as Loz was heard to say “how very rude”.
At his point centre Mike Jennings left the field with a nasty hand injury to be replaced by James Sweet.
Cranleigh continued to knock at the door using their powerful hooker and second row to make inroads before passing out wide. The second score was a peach with the Cranleigh scrum half picking up at the base of the ruck 10 metres from the line where he grubber kicked through the oncoming defence. The pacey winger sprinted outside of the pitch and came back in to touch down a foot from the dead ball line. The extras were missed by the Cranleigh full back for a 12-0 lead.
The All Blacks re grouped at this point and began to play in the right areas of the field. Fly half OJ was probing with his boot as well as using his wingers of James Sweet and Joe Brown to make ground with ball in hand. At the breakdown the forwards were making ground by picking and going with prop Paul Hasib, No.8 and captain Dave Wattam and second rows Tim Daniel and Adam Rez carrying deep into the Cranleigh half. After a series of penalties that saw the All Blacks come close Wattam decided to take the 3 points which OJ slotted, 12-3.
The All Blacks continued to press for a try in the last 20 minutes however Cranleigh showed tremendous defence keeping out wave after wave of attack even when down to 14 men after a yellow card was awarded for repeated infringement. During this period hooker Andy Mackay and flanker Eddie Chekera went close on a couple of occasions. With moments left of the half Wattam once more pointed to the sticks at a penalty which OJ slotted, 12-6.
The All Blacks regrouped at half time buoyed by their performance in the second 20 minutes of the half.
The second half could not have started worse for the men in Black. Replacement back row Russ Sailosi tip tackled the Cranleigh centre minutes into the half that saw him leave the field after being shown a yellow card and Cranleigh added the penalty to extend their score to 15-6.
Cranleigh further extended the score minutes later as the Cranleigh fly half kicked for the corner. All Blacks winger James Sweet tracked back and dived on the ball in the wet conditions and the ball shot out of his grasp like a wet bar of soap in a prison showers, and it trickled over the try line. The Cranleigh winger dotted down the early Christmas gift for the unconverted score 20-6.
The All Blacks made changes at this point bringing on props Josh Wren and Lee Collingbourne and Jennings returned to the field with a heavily bandaged hand.
The All Blacks liked their wounds and took the game to Cranleigh with Wren and Collingbourne giving the men in black go forward ball before Mackay and Chekera carried out wider. In the backs winger Mathues Gava was also showing his opposite speedster his set of skills as well as well grommed hair.
The All Blacks camped themselves in the Cranleigh half for 10 minutes inching their way up the park. Wren and Collingbourne were carrying well like a couple of truffle hunting boars. After a number of phases the ball was spun wide to OJ who passed to centre Daly who put in Gava who squeezed into the corner. OJ missed the conversion well, 20-11.
The final 20 minutes of the half were very open with both teams having chances as the game became open and lose. During this period Jennings and Chekera put in some bone crunching tackles before the likes of Sweet, Daraio and Gava showed pace out wide.
The game ended with the All Blacks pressing for another try however the ever strong Cranleigh defence did not falter.
Special mention must go to Paul Hasib who was a pleasure to have on the sideline in the second half passing on his well thought out tactical views and use of the English language.
The All Blacks were disappointed with the result however after gifting early scores whilst still on the road and asleep they really made a game of it in the second half. Cranleigh were an excellent outfit with big forwards and pacey backs and the All Blacks wished them luck in the next round.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match went to Hasib for his second half performance on the bench.
Next week the All Blacks travel to Ditchling in the league where they will have the honour of opening their new ground at St James’ Montefiore Cricket Club KO 2:30pm.
|November 18, 2017||2:00 pm||Junior Vase 2017-18||2017-2018|