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1st team match report – Sat 3rd Feb away to Hellingly promotion league game 1.

Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks played Hellingly away in the first game of the mini promotion league that sees the top 4 in the league play each other home and away again.

The All Blacks came into this game spurred on by their performance away to Seaford yet were very respectful having lost 41-0 to Hellingly only 3 weeks earlier.

The All Blacks welcomed back front rowers Andy Mackay, Jon Phillpot and Tony Cella alongside fly half Rich Fleming and winger Liam Hopwood to the squad.

The conditions were wet and boggy with a constant drizzle throughout the game.

Both Hellingly and the All Blacks showed endeavour despite the conditions in the first 20 mins. The next 10-15 minutes the All Blacks started to assert themselves and were camped in the Hellingly 22 for much of it.

After pounding at the line over and over again using their forwards the ball was spun wide where an excellent tackle saw winger Joe Brown bundled into touch in the corner.

Hellingly upped their game in the last 5 minutes of the half and were camped in the All Blacks 22.

At a scrum they showed their power game and drove the men in black backwards before their talisman no.8 crashed over in the corner for the unconverted score.

The All Blacks were pleased with their 1st half performance but were disappointed they had little to show for it.

Hellingly came out in the second half spurred on by their try and dominated proceedings using their powerful pack before releasing their pacey backline.

After pressing for a score they kicked long where All Blacks full back George Yeates kicked the ball back. The Hellingly winger appeared to knock the ball on as he collected it. The pause in play allowed him to beat the first chaser and pass the ball down the line where his fellow winger showed a set of wheels And squeezed into the corner to score an unconverted try.

The All Blacks regrouped and began to take the game to Hellingly. Scrum half Chris Turok-Hallam was marshalling his troops well using the forward runners of No.8 Dave Wattam, second row Simon Eyre and props Jon Phillpot and Paul Hasib to make ground with ball in hand.

In the backs the centre pairing of Jordan Sayers and Owain Jenkins were making ground before releasing their wingers.

At this point the All Blacks rolled the subs bringing on Cella to hooker, MacKay to back row and Liam (sick note) Hopwood back after a 4 month injury onto the wing.

The All Blacks stepped up a gear and were camped in the Hellingly half. Wave after wave of All Black attack was thrown at the loonies who showed tremendous defence and streetwise tatctics.

Hellingly started to buckle under the continued pressure and with 10 mins and 6 minutes left on the clock they received 2 yellow cards for repeated infringements.

With 5 minutes left on the clock a scrum in the Hellingly 22 saw the ball passed out where Fleming switched in midfield with Sayers who crashed over and under the posts. Fleming added the extras 10-7.

With 3 minutes left on the clock the All Blacks smelt blood. In their over eagerness however they gave away 2 penalties at a maul and breakdown thus ending the game.

The All Blacks were disappointed not to get more from the game especially after dominating the last 15 minutes but were very happy to put a marked improvement down from 3 weeks earlier ahead of going into a string of top of the table clashes.

The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match went to second row Simon Eyre who put in a shift after being ill all week.

The All Blacks are next in action at home on Sat 17/02 vs Uckfield whose second half of the season form has been impeccable.

With more players returning from injury the All Blacks will be looking to build on their current position in the top half of the league and semi final of the county cup.