Burgess Hill Under 14s fixture at home Vs Bognor was called off due to the council decision to declare the pitches water logged. To ensure rugby was the winner, Hillians decided to make their way to Bognor and play.
The journey seemed to have taken a bit of a toll on the players as during the warm up the boys were lacking in a bit of cohesion and were as rudderless as Coach Clegg’s Van with his “clown car” steering wheel.
Also due to illness and a host of other reasons Hillians had a squad of just 15 to take on the might of Bognor’s full squad of 22 boys.
Nevertheless, the All Blacks took to the field and got stuck in.
It very soon became apparent that the larger Bognor pack were going to use the pick and drive and fringe defence was the order of the day.
Throughout the whole match the heroic Hill back row of Kyalo, Upton and H Baker tackled themselves to a standstill.
This powerful defence was what created Hill first try. Some typical counter rucking following a powerful tackle and Hill spun the ball wide. Hillian’s centers A Baker and Bennett ran hard and passed to winger Simonet who was brought down. Quick ruck ball and the ball was rewound the other way across the pitch and storming full back Miller took and ball and fed Winger Lessacher on the half way. Still with his opposite winger and full back to beat, Lessacher proved his determination to make the line and broke tackles and smashed through defenders to score. The extras were duly converted by fly half Rogers and Hillians were 0-7 up.
However this was due to be a close match and Bognor came right back at Hillians. Some strong running and poor tackling lead to a penalty and the Bognor kick drove Hill right into the corner. The line out was a catch and set and the pacey Bognor back row broke off and smashed into Hill. The tackle was made and the ruck formed. Hill initially seemed to counter ruck but unfortunately left the ball behind and Bognor smartly picked up and dropped over the line. The conversion was a bit tricky in the wind and was just wide to make it 5-7 to Hill.
From the kick-off, Bognor hit back again and ruck after ruck drove into Hills half right to the 22m area. However open side flanker Upton may be short but he can rip a ball quicker than a flash. After turning over the ball he popped it up to Miller who passed to Rogers. Not worried by the fact he had the length of the pitch to go, Rogers stepped and burst through the Bognor flat line defence. Now in open space he stretched his legs and moved away to score under the posts. Converting his own try, Rogers moved the score to 5-14 to Hill.
It remained a very even match for the half with Hill struggling to deal with the pick and drive but when they got the ball looking deadly with Miller bursting through from full back and Rogers, A Baker and Bennett being a handful
The change ends meant Hill had the wind but it was more of the same. Bognor attacking through the forwards and tackle after tackle from Hill.
The Bognor pack kept hitting the mid field and it paid off with a penalty given right in front of the posts. Not giving Hill time to set, the quick tap and go and Bognor ran through to score under the posts. This time the conversion was good and the score was 12-14 to Hill.
The All Blacks realised that if they created space they caused problems. Some superb running from Back of the Match full back Miller created forward momentum and a superb opportunity to break out of the 22m. Miller passed to winger Simonet in space and the Hillian winger burned round the outside and sped up the touchline. It was a great Bognor cover tackle that stopped the speedster just after the half way line.
Play ebbed back and forth with both sides tackling and rucking hard. Another solid ruck by the All Blacks forwards and quick hands by Rogers and Baker gave Bennett the space he needed. Bursting round the outside he was through and clear to score under the posts. Rogers made the conversion and Hill were 12-21 up.
Bognor were made of stern stuff and kept working on their strengths. It was from a pick and drive that a tackle was missed and a Bognor back row player made it all the way to the line. Fortunately, he had a bit of white line fever as he stayed out wide to make the conversion more difficult. The kick was missed so the score moved to 17-21
With 6mins left Bognor smelled a win. The All Blacks back row were tiring and even a Forward of the Match performance by Kyalo accompanied by his back row buddies was struggling to stem the tide. Hillians coaches urged on the team and asked the front 5 to step up and make the tackles. Up steps prop MacAlister and he takes on the massive Bognor 8. Standing his ground the tackle was executed superbly and the player brought down. Hill forwards used this to up their game and it was a tough last 3 minutes.
Bognor kept the pressure on and pushed Hill to the limit. However yet again Hill turned over ball but a slight miss communication and Hill knocked on right in front of their posts. A minute to go and its a scrum to Bognor. Despite the extra Bognor pack weight, Hill held the scrum solid. The Bognor no.8 picked up and drove. Yet again massive defence kept the ball away from the line.
However, the referee had seen an infringement; the Bognor flanker holding Hill’s scrum half Collingbourne to make space for his 8 and the penalty was Hills. The kick to touch and the line out secured and Hill played out the last few second and the ref blew for full time and a win for Hill.
Hill coaches were massively proud of the whole team for traveling to Bognor and never giving up, showing the team spirit that makes this squad so special.
Next week we have another Away game Vs Hastings.
Squad: MacAlister, Clegg, Cowle, Watts, Nelson, Kyalo, Upton, H Baker, Collingbourne, Rogers, Lessacher, A Baker, Bennett, Simonet, Miller.