Hove U12s v Burgess Hill U12s
Burgess Hill had their last league match before Christmas away v Hove on 16th December. After the Saturday downpours the Hove pitch was in remarkably good condition and the crowd were rewarded with an enthralling, skilful and very closely fought match.
The All Blacks absorbed some early pressure from Hove with some solid defence. After one big tackle from Thompson caused a Hove player to spill the ball, Larder made a quick pick up and headed down the sideline with only a fine covering tackle from the Hove full back forcing him into touch. Hove kicked long from the restart and it was gathered well by Sargent and a great break followed with good interplay between Sargent, Larder and then Buggin broke free to sprint for the line from 30 metres out 5-0. A great try and great to see Buggin back in action after a few weeks on the sideline.
Hove hit back quickly with some good drives through the middle before finally getting the ball wide for an overlap try in the corner 5-5.
A spell of midfield battles set the scene for most of the rest of the match – both teams battling for advantage. Hill’s defence was solid with some great tackles, rucks and counter rucks from Cobham, Edwards, and Clifford. Hill missed a couple of opportunities to push for the try line with uncharacteristic handling errors. Under pressure themselves they chose to kick for territory but the Hove full back took a good catch and sped for the corner for an excellent individual try, 10-5.
From the restart, the ball was gathered by Buggin who released Newman for a 30 metre run. Cobham and Thompson provided great forward support to secure the ball from the ruck and then Clifford picked up and used his strength to drive over the line for an equalising try 10-10.
There was time for a couple more plays before half time and unfortunately the All Blacks got caught too narrow in defence and again Hove took advantage to use width and quick passes to go over in the corner for a 15-10 lead at half time.
Hill got off to a good start in the second half, Edwards, Larder, and Warner linking well to create an opportunity in the far corner, but the Hove defence managed to force the play into touch. Two minutes later, great interplay again between Sargent, Larder, and Buggin was held up by some excellent recovery tackles from Hove.
A lengthy period of Hill pressure punctuated with the odd break from Hove followed. Unfortunately, despite several attempts to penetrate the Hove defensive line, the All Blacks couldn’t quite finish off their chances, Edwards twice going close, Newman, Warner, Clifford and Buggin also all coming close. All credit to Hove who absorbed the pressure with solid defence, a couple of good turnovers and breaks of their own.
As the clock ticked down, despite working with just one sub, Hill dug into their reserves of energy and kept pushing for an equalising score and a 40 yard run from man of the match Edwards was once again frustratingly caught just short of the line with a brilliant last ditch tackle from the Hove full back.
After the end of this very long period of open play, Hove finally managed to secure the ball and kick into touch to secure their 15-10 victory.
The All Black boys were really disappointed not to get at least a draw out of the match, but all credit to Hove who rotated their bench well to stay fresh enough to repel Hill’s second half attacks.
It was a great effort from the Burgess Hill boys and the coaches and parents were justifiably very proud of the boys putting everything into the match they could have taken something from.
Also, a big thank you to our own Paul Hasib who refereed the fixture.
So that is the playing done before Christmas. The team will round the year off with ten pin bowling and pizza next Saturday.