Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks kicked off their 2016-17 league campaign vs one of the title favourites Crawley at home.
With a strong pre-season behind them winning two out two the All Blacks came into the game confident despite 5 of last weeks squad being unavailable for selection.
During the warm up the sun was out and the wind was light. Upon kick off the weather changed to wind and rain and increasingly got worse throughout the game.
The All Blacks started well playing up the slope and used their pack to make inroads into the Crawley half before probing with their boot often catching the Crawley full back and winger out. The second row of Tim Daniel and Adam Rez were getting through a lot of work carrying time and time again supported by the back row of Jamie Dimelow, Connor Chatfield and Dave Wattam. Despite the early dominance it was Crawley who should have scored on two occasions.
On a Crawley scrum on their own 10 metre line, the All Blacks put on the squeeze and drove the Crawley pack backwards. Upon doing this the ball shot out of the scrum where the rangey Crawley 8 picked up the ball and ran past everyone. With a one on one with the All Blacks winger he passed to his winger who looked destined to score in the corner. Tomer Teichman the All Blacks full back however made good ground and tackled the winger into touch. Minutes later the All Blacks once more bundled a Crawley attacker into the corner following a poor kick chase.
Crawley had their tails up now and were dominating possession using their pack to punch holes and back line to move the ball. Despite the onslaught the All Blacks defence stayed strong with the likes of Jamie Dimelow and Connor Chatfield smashing back their large opponents time after time.
Crawley were first on the score sheet following a great counter attack from inside their own half which saw the ball go through 5 sets of hands before their full back scored the converted try to take a 0-7 lead. The All Blacks dusted came straight back at Crawley and following a 5 metre scrum used their pack to drive towards the line. At phase 5, Adam Rez was driven over by his second row compatriot Tim Daniel for the score. Inside centre Rhys Clarke stepped up and added the extras to tie the score 7-7 at half time.
The All Blacks started the second half badly giving away a penalty on their 10 metre line that the Crawley 10 converted 7-10. Once more the All Blacks came back and following a penalty on the Crawley 10 metre line, Clarke stepped up to once more level the score.
A moment of brilliance from the Crawley fly half 10 minutes later saw them once more go ahead 10-13 as he coolly dropped a goal whilst under severe pressure.
With conditions worsening the All Blacks forwards took it on themselves to earn territory with all of the pack carrying time after time. With Simon Eyre and Lee Collingbourne now on the pitch the All Blacks added some bulk and they made good ground with ball in hand. One such drive lead to a penalty for an off the ball tackle on Collingbourne which Clarke converted to once more level the scores 13-13.
With 10 left on the clock, scrum half Owain Jenkins picked up at a base of a ruck and picked out a gap in the back line where he cut through before running into the Crawley half before passing the Clarke who in turn passed to fly half Sam David who crashed over in the corner for the unconverted score 18-13.
The All Blacks played out the last 8 minutes for the valuable win in bad conditions.
The All Blacks MoM went to Clarke who kicked 8 points and was a rock in defence all afternoon.
Next week the All Blacks travel to Seaford KO 3pm. If anyone would like to join the Sussex All Blacks please contact Director of Rugby Ross Hallifax on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07941 016836. With 3 senior teams and an occasional vets side we have a home for the aspiring professional through to most social of player.
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