Burgess Hill Rugby Club has been mourning the loss of life member Mark Stenning, and on Saturday all players held a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to remember him.
What followed then was a devastating second-half performance by BHRFC, that threw down the gauntlet to Hellingly and Crawley in the race to the Play-off. Burgess hill, leading by five points after an uncomfortable first half, ran in seven tries in the second, all by different players.
Seaford were torn apart, having looked tight and physical in the first half, the gulf in class between the teams was exposed brutally after the break. A length-of-the-field try with which BHRFC rounded off their spree, featuring dazzling contributions from Adam Rezadezah and Mike Jennings, through a pusillanimous defence was a fitting end to a great game of attacking rugby.
Hill’s swagger reached its pitch with that eighth try of theirs in the 73rd minute, but how far away it had seemed 40 minutes earlier as Seaford had Hill in a defensive vice for much of the opening exchanges.
The signs had been ominous from the moment Seaford were awarded their first scrum midway through the first half, as nearly every pack has suffered the same outcome from the black 8 with another dominant shift of that now fabled set piece. Hill’s front 5 of Arney, Dewey, Hasib, Leahy and Eyre, topping the scales at nearly 600Kg had the inexperienced Seaford front 5 in all kinds of bother.
Hill’s task was always dependent on not allowing the Seaford forwards to sink their teeth into the game. But, having coughed up a few soft penalties early in the game , they conceded another at a Seaford ruck, before their full back kicked a beautiful 40 metre effort. By then, Hill had scored a try themselves. A carbon-copy of the week before with a fantastic driving maul for Adam Rezazadeh to score his eighth of the season wide out.
Hill spent much of their time testing out the opposition midfield. Sam David, on early for last week’s Sussex Osteopathy Sponsored Man of the match Liam Hopwood, was throwing himself into the action time and time and again. Hill managed to prise Seaford open through Rezazadeh, Dewey and Max Wilson bursting on to inside balls, from one such break Seaford were caught offside and Rhys Clarke pushed over the penalty for a tight 8-3 advantage.
The sun came out for the second half – and Hill duly blossomed down the Slope and with the wind. Seaford had done a huge amount of defending and suffered the indignities of scrum time. Those exchanges had taken a lot out of the seasiders, as it turns out, and Hill reaped the harvest in the second half. Two solid scrums, one even on Seaford ball, gave them a huge boost, but it was two timely tries by replacements Ash Heward, soon heading off for the Asian 5 nations and Darren Coulton, for his second in two matches that turned the game, before handing the baton to the backs. Full back Dave Daly picked a superb line off Mass Hillier’s quick-fire passing, then two minutes later Sussex Osteopathy sponsored man of the match Dave Wattam dropped on a 5m scrum that Hill walked over the line. Hillier had not scored for Hill since the first week in November, but significant phase play allowed him to spot a gap and go over mid-way out converted by Clarke for Hill’s 600th point of the league season. His cause was aided by a yellow card for the Seaford second row, who tackled a player In the air.
Hill now face Crawley and Chichester in the run in for the play-off spot, knowing only two wins will suffice, and look forward to playing Brighton Medical School in the Sussex Cup final.