East Grinstead 27 vs 29 Burgess Hill
1st XV match report Saturday 29th September away to East Grinstead.
Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks travelled to East Grinstead in the league.
The All Blacks played EG away twice last season losing both games by less than a few points and knew this was going to be a tough fixture.
With the customary 7 changes to the team from the week before due to a host of reasons the All Blacks were looking fresh faced with a number of teenagers in the ranks.
The first 40 minutes belonged to EG who showed great power in the forwards, a highly effective lineout and some real endeavour and pace in the backs.
The first try came after 5 minutes with the All Blacks backline asleep the large and very fast EG full back came into the line beating two defenders before passing inside to his winger to score in the corner, 5-0.
This try was followed up moments later following a break in midfield that saw the EG pack rumble on and over the line under the posts for the converted score, 12-0.
At this point of the game the All Blacks were chasing shadows lacking defensive shape and aggression.
Whenever the All Blacks won some ball they proceeded to throw it away with unforced errors and poor execution at the set piece. The only saving grace was centre Rhys Clarke who in defence was felling more trees than a Canadian logger.
The third EG try came.from a lineout move that saw a flowing backs move that saw the EG full back dot down in the corner for the unconverted score, 17-0.
The final score of the half showed ineptitude from the men in black when from a penalty on the 22, the All Blacks defence parted like the red sea allowing the EG winger to run in untouched for the unconverted score, 22-0.
To add insult to injury captain Dave Wattam was yellow carded for an offence that lead to the 4th EG try.
At half time the Sir Alex Ferguson hair dryer was unpacked and set on maximum as a few home truths were passed on about the performance. At this stage Jordan Sayers returning from injury came onto the field stepping in at scrum half.
Despite the “motivational” speech at half time the All Blacks spent the next 10 minutes playing as they had in the first 40 minutes. After 7 minutes they had conceded another try with yet more confusion in their defensive line. Luckily for the men in black the EG full back despite showing great promise in the warm up was having a very bad day with the boot, 27-0.
Peter Pan Wattam came back onto the field at this point following his yellow card and re-energised the troops with 30 minutes left on the clock.
Immediately the men in Black began to show their power play with forwards and backs combining well. A break in midfield by second row Adam Rez saw the ball passed by Sayers to his backline where outside centre George Yeates danced round 4 men before scoring near the posts. Clarke slotted the extras, 27-7.
This try was quickly followed up by a series of forward runs and offloads with hooker Andy Mackay and props Lee Collingbourne and Josh Wren making good ground. After going close, Rezzy showed his intelligence dotting the ball down at the foot of the post for the try. Clarke added the extras, 27-14.
At this point the All Blacks “Boy from Brazil” left the park with a suspected hair related injury. On came the Sussex All Blacks very own Zlatan Ibraimovic of the rugby world, Harry Carton. With more chat than Talk Sport, the chunky Swede is blindly confident in his ability.
Following another break up field at the ruck the ball was passed to Oli Lewis who put in a cross field kick to Carton. With the nochalance you would expect from Zlatan he collected the ball and waltzed into the corner. Clarke narrowly missed the extras, 27-19.
At this point the All Backs supporters were rocking. With 10 minutes left they smelt blood and were pushing on their team.
Paul Hasib who had left the field with an injured calf was getting the sort of treatment Demi Moore recieved from Patrick Swayze in the film Ghost from club President Shillaker. Whatever Shills did worked as Gloria came back onto the park to beef up the scrum.
5 minutes to go and Clarke slots a penalty to get within 5 to earn a losing bonus point 27-22.
The All Blacks however had no intention of losing and they went for the jugular!
Lee Collingbourne burst through the line pirouetting as he did and with the line in sight fell over. Even the EG supporters questioned why the 19 stone ballerina had not scored.
Full back Mike Jennings was next to go for the winning score as he burst into the line and was reaching for the try line as he was hit by 2 EG defenders. As he repelled backwards at great speed he off loaded to ever present flanker Kyle “Sloth” Tucker who proceeded to run over the top of Jennings to crash down for the try. As Tucker came up with the ball a large cry of “Hey you guys!” rang out as the scores were levelled 27-27.
With no time left on the clock, Clarke positioned the tricky conversion kick.
You could hear a pin drop as the large balcony went deadly silent. Clarke showed his nerve and talent as he smashed the extras through to win the game 27-29.
The All Blacks players and supporters went wild after being part of the greatest comeback since Lazarus.
Grit, determination and belief were the winners on the day and we just hope the All Blacks never repeat their first half antics again.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate Man of the match, winning a bottle of English Fizz went to Clarke who was class.
Next week the All Blacks host Eastbourne in what will be their toughest fixture so far this season. Proudly sitting top of the league with 4 wins from 4 the men in Black are looking forward to the encounter.