A determined Burgess Hill Sussex All Blacks U12’s turned out for their first ever league fixture at Home vs Hove Development. In wet and blustery conditions, Burgess Hill kicked off into the wind. Captain and prop Holland set the tone for the day with some huge early tackles. Forcing errors in tricky conditions from the Hove pack, a series of black scrums and driving runs saw Inside Centre Armstrong almost score in the corner after a delightful show and go by Fly-Half John, only to be denied by some superb Hove defence.
Worgan was tackling like a machine from Second Row, denying Hove a number of potential breaks. In a very closely contested first half, Burgess Hill were winning rucks and breaking lines. Hove did manage to breach the All Black defence on two occasions, both times finding gaps with their strong forward runners. With the final play of the first half, following 9 phases of fantastic driving runs including great efforts from forwards Hind and Butters, the ball was moved out to the backs to offload and find space, allowing the All Blacks creative Scrum Half Grant to cross the line to score. 1-2 at Half Time.
Full of belief and now with the wind at their backs, the Sussex All Blacks regrouped during the half time break. Hove’s kick off was superbly collected by Alfie Grant, popping the ball to the effervescent Clegg who beat two hove defenders before finding Phillips on the wing, who was unlucky not to mark his debut with a try. Buoyed by their strong restart, a lovely move through the Backs –Worgan to Armstrong running a hard line, John skipped through two tackles to score and level the game. This seemed to awaken Hove, who from kick off found a mazey runner on a wide loop which beat the hardworking All Black defence to take a 2-3 lead.
Not willing to concede defeat, the All Blacks stepped up a gear, with Butters, Worgan and Hind again dominating in the rucks and winning turnovers all over the pitch. Following a penalty and quick thinking from a practiced tap and go, Holland levelled the scores again by driving over the line in the far corner. 3-3. Sensing that the win was there for the taking, a big chase from Fullback McMinn and Outside Centre Eeson and Butters again driving through rucks drew in a number of the Hove attack. Holland led his team into the Hove Maul and held them up.
Hill were attacking well, but the wet and windy conditions were making the handling difficult resulting in some misplaced passes. Eeson threw himself into contact to win a Black Scrum. John was dictating play at Fly Half, collecting the ball from Grant’s strong pass at the back of the scrum and Oscar muscled over to score and put Burgess Hill in front 4-3. A flourish from Hove saw two of the best tackles of the match on each wing from Hill, with Wingers Mander and Phillips making mammoth tackles when it looked as though Hove may have found a gap. Intelligent play from John ended the game by finding touch after a penalty was awarded to Hill and final play had been called by the referee.
Their first taste of league action ended with a gracious victory and generous hospitality in the clubhouse after the game with delicious food being provided by the parents and club. A terrific team effort with special mentions for Hind and John chosen as Forward and Back of the Match by their opponents. The squad have now set the standard to be upheld throughout the rest of the season. A fully deserved win for such a committed display from the whole team. Next week, the team take on Brighton in a friendly again at Home, looking to turn Poveys Close into an All Blacks Fortress.