Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC the Sussex All Blacks were back in league action away to Hellingly.
Hellingly beat the men in black earlier in the season at Burgess Hill with the last kick of the game and were sitting 1 place above them in 3rd.
The All Blacks team made 7 changes to the squad from their last outing mainly through injury.
Despite the changes Burgess Hill’s strength in depth really showed including fielding the largest pack this season weighing in at just under 900kg with 4 players over 6ft 3.
Playing with the wind Hill kicked off deep into the Hellingly half. Hellingly took the ball into contact but following a strong tackle by Hill flanker Simon Eyre the ball was spilt forward.
At the scrum the black pack exerted the pressure and pushed the equally large Hellingly pack backwards. The ball was then passed out to the backs where fly half Rhys Clarke switched with inside centre Max Wilson on the game line. Wilson powered out of a tackle and then showed neat footwork to beat another defender before sprinting 30 metres untouched to score under the posts. Clarke added the extras for a 7-0 lead after 2 minutes.
Hill dominated for the remainder of the half showing total game management. The forwards kept ball and ate up the yards in the sticky blustery conditions and backs played a very intelligent territory game.
Hellingly’s only response was to kill the ball at the ruck to slow wave after wave of attack. Unfortunately for them Clarke had his kicking boots on slotting 5 from 6 penalties with 2 being just inside the Hellingly half.
The Sussex All Blacks ended the half in total control 0-22 up without breaking a sweat. They new with the wind in their faces that in the second half they would need to play with ball in hand more and the is exactly what they did.
After 5 minutes at a ruck the ball was passes to Eyre who showed great footwork and a strong hand off to go on a 20 metre run into the Hellingly 22. At the breakdown the ball was recycled quickly and passed out to Clarke who popped to full back Owain Jenkins who was at full tilt who sprinted round the cover to score in the corner. Clarke added the extras from near the touchline 0-29.
Hellingly woke up after this score and began to show why they are 3rd in the league. Their excellent number 8 and useful backline came close on two occasions and it was only last minute tackles that kept them at bay.
The men in black then put a choke hold on the game again. Leahy came close on 2 occasions and Wilson once as they pounded the Hellingly line. On the 3rd time trying following a pop from the ruck Leahy used his 6ft 4 130kg frame to power over the line. Clarke added the extras 0-36.
The next score came following a great kick return by Pete Bkenkarn. After shaking his 7’s pace and quick footwork he beat 7 defenders before being hit hard by the Hellingly 8. At the ruck the ball was passed wide where prop Jon Phillpot was the grateful recipient. Clarke once again added the extras 0-43.
With 1 minute left on the clock a moment of indecision and a handling error resulted the ball landing in the Hellingly wingers hand who ran in untouched to score a converted try to end the game 7-43.
This was possibly the best team performance of the season for the men in black and resulted in them going second in the league.
MoM and winning a free session at Sussex Osteopathy was Clarke.
Next week the Sussex All Blacks are play Hove 2’s at home KO 2:30pm.