Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC the Sussex All Blacks travelled to their furthest league opponents Folkestone.
Having lost in the last play of the game at home earlier in the season the All Blacks had revenge on their mind. Folkestone however have improved since the start of the season and were sitting comfortably in 4th place in the league.
It wasn’t the greatest journey for some members of the squad who took the wrong exit ending up in the channel tunnel terminal. On the road the All Blacks achillies heal has been starting slowly often going a number of scores down before responding strongly. As such all the preparation ahead of the game was on starting well.
For the first 25 minutes there was nothing in it with both teams sharing possession. The Folkestone pack had 3 stone a man on the All Blacks and were carrying well latching on in numbers to get over the game line. The All Blacks opted for an offloading game where the back row of Dave Wattam, Connor Chatfield and Joe Schofield showed soft hands on a wet and windy pitch. At the breakdown half backs Sam David and Owain Jenkins used the strong wind to pin back the pacey Folkestone back 3.
The All Blacks best chances of the half came from a cross field kick from OJ to winger Owain Larard who gathered excellently before losing possession as he sprinted for the line. The other opportunity which looked certain to yield a try came following a 30 metre rolling maul which was collapsed by Folkestone just short of the line. With 10 minutes left of the half the All Blacks lost Chatfield to injury and then a yellow card to second row Johnny Acton for collapsing a maul. Folkestone smelt blood and went on to score two tries one of which was converted to end the half 12-0.
The start of the second half did not go well for the All Blacks and for 25 minutes it was all Folkestone who scored 4 further tries 2 of which was converted for a 38-0 lead. In the last 15 minutes the All Blacks pressed for a score with replacement winger Liam Hopwood back from a 6 month injury showing his pace and strength bouncing off defenders on a number of powerful runs up into the Folkestone half. Full back George Yeates also started to find holes as he danced past defenders. One such run by Yeates resulted in a cross field kick to Larard who collected well this time before sprinting 40 metres up the touchline before being bundled into touch metres short of the line. In the end despite their best endeavors the All Blacks could not break down their bigger and more streetwise opponents. The All Blacks will be disappointed with their performance which was patchy at best. With a number of key games coming up over the next month against the likes of Eastbourne and Pulborough at home the men in black will be working hard on notching up some results.
MoM as voted for by Folkestone went to Hopwood for his powerful second half performance. Next week the All Blacks host Eastbourne in the league.
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