Sunday afternoon saw Ditchling 2nd XV attend the final of the Sussex Salver competition against Hove 4th XV at Haywards Heath RFC.
Ditchling started the day as favorites following a easy win against their opponents at Hove only four weeks earlier however cup games are always a one off game when form goes out of the window. The Hove starting XV was a much changed side from the previous meeting so Ditchling were expecting an unknown quantity.
Both sides started nervously with several handling errors in what was perfect rugby playing conditions. The expectant supporters and Sussex officials were sensing a nervous start.
Ditchling seemed to calm sooner and started to take the upper hand by using their superior pace and agility in the back line. It took until the 10th minute when a fine individual effort by Ditchling centre Henry Barden from his own half ended with him crossing the line under the posts after eluding several Hove tackles. Ditchling captain Matt Hinton coolly converted to set the foundations for the coming onslaught. Ditchling learnt very quickly they had the pace in the back line and better fitness to run the game. Quick, fast possession was the order of the day and the Hove defense could not contain it.
Ditchling only conceded one penalty in the whole of the first half which showed their dominance. This was still out of kicking range so now points came. At the end of the first half, Ditchling were already what appeared to be an unassailable lead of 38-0.
Hove did start the second half brighter though and scored a quick try as Ditchling seemed to let complacency creep in. This converted try though was the wake up call they needed and they continued where they left off in the first half.
In the end Ditchling scored 12 tries - 9 of which were converted to Hove’s single try. The Ditchling try scorers were; Jacob MacMahon (3), Henry Barden (2), Dave Lanaway (2), James Kennedy, Tim Kearns, Sam Brown, Tommy Bisset and Aaron Bowes. Nine were converted by Matt Hinton.
It was an excellent performance all round and one that after the first 10 minutes never seemed in doubt. This Ditchling side have the ability to play to their strengths but also their opponents weaknesses.
After the game Matt Hinton, captain of the team commented “A massive well done to all who played today, it was a massive effort from the whole squad. Everyone played at a different level today and I was proud to be part of such a big win”. Ditchling RFC Chairman Rob Becvar added “It was a great day for the guys. At the start of the season they targeted the double and now one has been achieved. Promotion seems to be completely in our hands and I know the guys are going to try their hardest to get it. Well done to all involved, all the supporters and thanks to Haywards Heath RFC for being such good hosts”. Their attention now returns to their promotion chasing season where, if games in hand are won the title is theirs.
Ditchling 1st XV also kept up their hunt for promotion with a comfortable win over mid-table Newick 42-5. They now play consecutive games against the teams also chasing promotion so the title may be decided in the next few weeks.