Race report Saturday 15/09 – The “Wear the Fox hat” classic, Plumpton Race Course.

Publication: Racing Post
Photography: Mark Jones

Last Saturday, Burgess Hill RFC, the Sussex All Blacks travelled to the Racecourse to play new boys to the league Plumpton RFC.

Prop Paul Hasib arrived ready to race on his trusty steed “Soon to be Glue”.

The All Blacks side included a good mix of youth and experience with at least 5 teenagers in the side alongside the warhorses of Wattam, Hasib and Simon Eyre who insisted he had made the racing weight.

The “going” on the racecourse pitch was “heavy” due to the long grass and rutted ground underneath.

Plumpton came out of the “gates” and were the “front runners” from the off using their sizeable “thoroughbreds” to drive deep into the All Blacks defence.

The All Blacks naively tried to front up to the Plumpton pack who on average were 2 stone heavier and 2-3 inches taller. Time after time the Plumpton forwards made ground which the All Blacks over zealously battled to win giving away a series of penalties.

Deapite 20 minutes of one way dominance Plumpton did not trouble the All Blacks line. All their ground came from All Blacks penalties. It must be said in Blakey their hooker they have one of the finest lineout throwers in the county. He would be a master on any pub darts team.

A quick chat in the All Blacks ranks lead to the men in black cleaning up their act and they began to play, with captain and No 8 Dave Wattam leading from the front. In the backs, fly half Rhys Clark was making in roads as was full back Oli Lewis and debutant winger Alex Bone.

The All Blacks had a number of chances in this last period of the first half but botched 2 driving lineouts and missed 2 penalty kicks at goal with the kickers stating the “going” was to heavy for their plastic tees.

At half time the men in black looked visibly down as they had not shown their full potential. Words from the coaching team and senior players along with sugar lumps and a carrot each saw the bunch of mares start the second half with the verve and vigour of a young Desert Orchid.

From the off they took the game to Plumpton and forced them into a string of penalties. Alex Bone put his hand up to take over the kicking and slotted 2 penalties to take a 0-6 lead. He must have used a different kicking tee!

George Yeates switched from centre to scrum half at this point and immediately used his pace and step to create chances.

The next 25 minutes were dominated by the All Blacks scoring 4 well worked tries combining backs and forwards.

The first came from a break in midfield by second row Adam Rez which was carried forward by prop Paul Hasib before the ball was passed wide. Oli Lewis showed a clean pair of heels and raced up the wing to score the try. Bone narrowly missed the extras from wide out, 0-11.

This score was followed up by another break out wide, this time by winger Tommer Teichmann who passed back inside to Lewis who popped to Bone who raced in for the score that he converted himself, 0-18.

Replacement back row Alex Brown came on at this point for his debut and immediately added to the game handing off 4 players before running on 15 metres and setting up the ruck.

At the ruck Yeates took on the ball before passing to Lewis who looped Clarke and took the ball back catching it behind his back where he raced on 40 metres before bringing the ball round to his front where he dotted down, 0-23.

With less than 5 minutes on the clock the All Blacks turned down the conversion as they wanted to use the time to push for the 4th and bonus point try.

From the kick off Rez, Wattam, Hasib and flanker James Brown all combined showing the backs the forwards could also play showing deft hands and support before Wattam crashed over the line injuring himself in the process. Bone added the extras to take the score to 0-30 with the all important bonus point. Wattam was written off by the race course vet at this point and is now on his way to Whiskas.

With less than 4 minutes left on the clock, Plumpton showed they were no pushovers as their large and powerful forward runners scored 2 quick converted tries to end the game 14-30.

The All Blacks were happy with the result but less so the performance however Plumpton proved they are more than capable of causing upsets at this level with a powerful pack, tight scrum, exceptional lineout and some game managers in the backs.

The Ridgeview Wine Estate Man of the Match went to Oli Lewis who gets better with each game he plays.

After the game Hasib and Eyrsey rode off into the sunset two abreast their stallion in full Lady Godiva glory.

Next week the All Blacks host local neighbour’s Ditchling RFC, the Wild Pigs KO 3pm.