Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted Horsham in the semi-final of the Bob Rogers Sussex Cup.
The All Blacks knew they would be up against it vs their opposition who effectively play 2 leagues higher than them. Horsham started at a frantic pace and went about putting the All Blacks to the sword. Their physicality, speed and running lines were some of the best the All Blacks have faced this season and they went about scoring at will for the first 20 mins and were soon 30 points up. The All Blacks were passengers during this period as the green machine ran in trys from 1 to 15.
In the last 15 minutes of the half the All Blacks began to adjust to the tempo and began to play some rugby. Scrum half Massimo Hiller was using his forwards to get over the game line where a simple pick and go game found holes around the rucks. In the backs Richard Fleming and Rhys Clarke were forming a new partnership and 10 and 12 and were starting to make some inroads ahead of releasing the wide men. During this period the All Blacks scored 2 good tries. The first was following a lineout 10 metres from the Horsham line where the forward pack rumbled on for Paul Hasib to cross the line. The second was following a break up the blindside where Hiller passed to No.8 Dave Wattam who passed inside to his back row colleague Andy Mackay who ran on 10 metres before passing to his other back row Joe Turner who scored and unconverted try.
Horsham added some further scores including a 40 metre run by their prop forward to end the half 10-56.
The All Blacks regrouped and half time and brought on 17 year olds Matheus Gava and Tomer Teichman on the wings. Both players got straight into the game and went on some barnstorming runs into the Horsham half. For the next 40 minutes the All Blacks spent 95% of their time in the Horsham half with 30% being played in the Horsham 22 metre area. They pounded away at the Horsham line but could not break down their highly physical defence which stopped wave after wave of attack. To add insult to injury in forcing the game the All Blacks gifted Horsham with 3 break away tries 2 of which were converted to end the game 10-70.
The All Blacks will learn from this encounter as once they had got used to the level they performed very well in the second half. Despite this it was a bridge too far against an elite team who must be favourites to lift the cup next week.
The All Blacks Sussex Osteopathy man of the match went to 17 year old Joe Turner who tackled hard and made many metres in the second half.
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