Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC 1st XV played host in the league to Gillingham Anchorians.
Buoyed by back to back wins the Sussex All Blacks came into this game confident of another “W”.
The men in black started badly giving away a technical free kick which turned to a penalty as they looked confused at the decision. The Gillingham fly half opted for the posts and slotted a 30 metre penalty to lead 0-3.
The All Blacks came straight back at Gillingham using their pack to carry before fly half Jordan Sayers used his boot to put them in good positions.
In the forwards hooker Andy Mackay and open side flanker Connor Chatfield were everywhere carrying well and hammering the opposition when they were in possession.
After 10 mins of sustained pressure Gillingham gave away a penalty just into their own half. Sayers kicked for the corner. At the lineout Chatfield rose like a Gazelle and driving maul ensued. The maul rumbled on 10 metres over the line where second row Tim Daniel crashed over to score. Sayers added an excellent conversion to lead 7-3.
As is often the way a lack of concentration at the restart saw a sloppy clearance kick charged down which the All Blacks then killed at the ruck. It was an expensive error for the men in black as they lost player to the sin bin and 3 points to the boot of the Gillingham fly half 7-6.
This scored spurred on Gillingham and they started to play some good rugby with their classy 9 bringing in his big carrying No.8 and blind side flanker. The All Blacks showed great defence during this spell thwarting a number of promising attacks.
The next 2 scores were following Gillingham killing the ball in their 22. Sayers stepped up and slotted both to increase the lead to 13-6.
Despite what was now one way traffic the Gillingham 9 was showing his full repertoire and was almost single handedly taking on the All Black XV. After dancing around 3 players he put in a chip and chase and was taken out. The referee awarded a penalty and another yellow card.
Despite being down to 13, the All Blacks ended the half with another Sayers penalty to go in at half time 16-6.
After wave after wave of attack a ruck was set up 5 metres out from the Gillingham line. Daniel picked up and took 3 defenders with him as he crashed over the line. The referee did not see the grounding so awarded a 5 metre scrum. At the scrum the black pack turned the screw an drove their opposite 8 back into their own posts. No.8 Dave Wattam was destined to score but the referee blew up for safety reasons.
At the next scrum the black pack edged forward before Wattam picked and passed to David who in turn passed to full back Dave Daly who was tackled just short of the line. At the ensuing ruck, MacKay picked up and crashed over for the score. Sayers missed the conversion in a now very strong head wind, 21-6.
The All Blacks were now in total ascendency and forwards and backs were combining well. A a ruck 40 metres from the line, David snipped before passing to lose head prop Jon Phillpot who are his man before releasing fellow prop Paul Hasib. Hasib at full tilt is like a Hippo in full flight on the Serengeti and a scary prospect for a lone full back. Rather than steam rolling him however Hasib showed great awareness to pass to Wattam who sprinted in to score in the corner. The conversion attempt once again held up in the wind 26-6.
With 15 left on the clock the All Blacks were now looking for the bonus point score and were throwing the ball around. Unfortunately fo the men in black the pitch was now representing a cow field and they could not get their pacey backline firing.
The last score of the game was for Gillingham who after a couple of forays into the All Blacks 22 were awarded a controversial penalty. At a ruck Hill second row demonstrated McCaw like turnover skills but instead of getting his just reward he was yellow carded! At the penalty the ball was passed to the rampaging Gillingham No.8 who crashed over for the unconverted score 26-11.
MoM went to hooker Andy Mackay playing his first game at hook where he he was tremendous.
The All Blacks now have a rest week before travelling to one of the title favourites Heathfield and Waldron. With the 3’s picking up their first win of the season away to Bognor 3’s it was a great day to be a Sussex All Black.
Anyone wishing to play for the Sussex All Blacks should contact DoR Ross Hallifax on 07941 016836 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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