RUGBY: Crawley 27 Burgess Hill 30 - All Blacks beat the champions but miss out on promotion

Action from Crawley v Burgess Hill
Picture by Ross Hallifax SUS-171104-100507002
Action from Crawley v Burgess Hill Picture by Ross Hallifax SUS-171104-100507002

The All Blacks needed a four-try bonus point win away at newly crowned champions Crawley and for Uckfield to lose away to Horsham seconds to secure a play-off spot.

The All Blacks started slowly and went a try down before Paul Hasib broke off the back and drove over to score. Fly half Owain Jenkins (OJ) missed the extras from wideout 5-5.

Action from Crawley v Burgess Hill
Picture by Ross Hallifax SUS-171104-100519002

Action from Crawley v Burgess Hill Picture by Ross Hallifax SUS-171104-100519002

The All Blacks were once more awarded a penalty. OJ attacked quickly and tapped and ran at offside defenders before burrowing over in the corner for the unconverted try 5-10.

Hasib was certain he had added a rare second try minutes later as he drove over the line however the ball was ajudged to be held up.

The All Blacks were now controlling all the territory and possession stats.

All Crawley could do in reply was kick long. Luckily for the All Blacks hot stepping full back George Yeates and flying Fijian John Rainima were only happy to run the ball back with interest.

Crawley Rugby Club lift the Sussex League trophy SUS-171004-210450002

Crawley Rugby Club lift the Sussex League trophy SUS-171004-210450002

One such kick down field saw Yeates step, dummy, fend and dance round 4 defenders before passing over the defence to hooker Tony Cella who scored in the corner. OJ narrowly missed the extras, 5-15.

Crawley recovered to 12-15 and in another move, OJ was first on hand to collect the ball and dot down before converting his own score, 12-22.

Crawley ended the half with a penalty to go in 15-22 down.

Crawley came out in the second half with all guns blazing.

A break by their powerful second row in midfield resulted in quick ball that was passed down the wing for their winger to squeeze in the corner for the unconverted score 20-22.

The All Blacks brought on first team captain Ben Dewey at hooker and first team vice captain Sam David at scrum half at this point.

Following a poor kick chase on 60 minutes the Crawley centre jogged in under the posts for the converted score 27-22.

The All Blacks showed their experience that has not seen them lose a league game since October.

David was now controlling the breakdown passing out to OJ and his centre pairing of Jordan Sayers and Dave Daly who were making good ground with ball in hand.

During this period Crawley made three high tackles the third of which was awarded a yellow card. OJ added the penalty to add to their pain 27-25.

The All Blacks smelt blood and they continued to claw their way up the pitch. After another break in midfield once more a yellow card was awarded for another high tackle as Crawley began to buckle under the pressure.

At the lineout the ball was driven on and crashed up by Sayers. At the ruck, Sailosi picked up and sprinted in with ball in one hand to score in the corner. OJ missed the extras with three minutes left to play, 27-30.

The All Blacks played out the last three minutes controlling possession to take the win.

The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match went to Paul Hasib.

Despite the five-point win, unfortunately results did not go the All Blacks way elsewhere as they finished third, two points behind Uckfield who earned the play-off promotion spot.

The All Blacks can be proud of their second half of the season form that has seen them win every game earning a four-try bonus point in all but one game.

In turn they will rue their form in October with three losses as a result of player unavailability.

With a Sussex Cup final on May 27 they still have a chance to end their season on a high.