1st XV match report – Sat 8th Sept at home to Crawley.

Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted Crawley in round one of the Sussex 1 league.

Crawley were relegated from the London leagues last term and arrived at Poveys Close with a young and exciting side. 

The All Blacks still with people on holiday due the league kicking off a week earlier this year had a side with a number of players playing out of position including scrum halves and centres in the pack. Despite this, there was a mix of youth and experience led by the evergreen David Wattam.

The first 20 minutes of the game were very close with both teams showing their metal. During this period the All Blacks backs sprayed the ball around with the likes of fly half Rhys Clarke, centre George Yeates and winger Mathues Gava testing the solidity of the Crawley defence.

The set piece was effective, with the scrum holding its own and the lineout providing a lot of clean ball mainly through second row Jamie Dimelow.

On the 20 minute mark, Clarke narrowly missed a long range penalty attempt which was immediately followed up by a successful penalty from Crawley, 0-3.

This score spurred on the All Blacks and they spent the next 15 minutes camped in the Crawley half. Wave after wave of All Blacks attack was thwarted by strong Crawley defence. The front row of Lee Collingbourne, Andy Mackay and Josh Wren got through a load of work during this period.

With 5 minutes to go the All Blacks through Clarke slotted 2 penalties to take the lead 6-3 and started to look in control.

Crawley however were not to be outdone and with minutes left on the clock a break in midfield was followed up by great support and their number 8 crashing over. The Crawley 10 slotted the extras to take the lead 6-10 at halftime.

The All Blacks regrouped at half time and knew going down the slope in the second half gave them an advantage.

Paul “Gloria” Hasib came on at half time for Josh Wren at prop and immediately made the scrum go forward down the slope.

From one such scrum in the All Blacks half the back row took the ball on before scrum half Chris Turok-Hallam picked up and switched with Dimelow who powered over in the right hand corner for the try after 3 minutes. Clarke narrowly missed the extras from far out, 11-10.

The All Blacks were now on the front foot and we’re taking the game to the men from Willoughby fields.

The next try saw the ball passed away from the support for centre come back row Luke Rokosau power over 3 defenders to score in the bottom corner. Clarke’s radar was on point this time and he slotted the conversion, 18-10.

Crawley came back at the All Blacks at this point and for 10 minutes battered the All Blacks defence. The men in black however stood steeley strong with the likes of Yeates, Dimelow and Clarke putting in some great tackles.

The All Blacks made some changes at this point with prop Will Arney and hooker Tony Cella coming onto the field. Both of these front rows are Fly Half’s in front rowers bodies and always bring up the pace and dynamism which was evident as Cells took a quick 22 drop out in his bright yellow boots.

After sucking up the pressure from Crawley, the All Blacks ventured back into he Crawley half and following a number of breaks left and right the ball was spun right where on league debut, full back Oli Lewis handed off one before crashing over in the corner. Clarke once more hit a sublime conversion, 25-10.

The All Blacks now wanted the bonus point score and they pounded at the Crawley line for the last 5 minutes but could not break down their resolute defence despite centre Dave Daly going close on 2 occasions.

The All Blacks man of the match winning a bottle of Ridgeview sparkling wine was Jamie Dimelow for his great work around the park and constant stream of lineout ball.

Next week the All Blacks travel to the racecourse to play new boys Plumpton RFC KO 3pm.