Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks travelled to Crawley in the Semi Final of the Sussex Shield.
Crawley have only lost once this season in all competitions back on the first day of the season away to the All Blacks.
The All Blacks had a blip in October losing 3 games but since then they have got better with each passing week. They came into this game with a strong squad including a powerful bench of "Finishers".
The All Blacks took the game to Crawley from the off with the pack making ground with ball in hand. After 5 mins of one way pressure the All Blacks knocked on in the Crawley 22. At the scrum Crawley showed their endeavour passing out to the wing where their speedster showed power, a step and raw pace to burn to run 70 metres to score under the sticks for the converted try 7-0.
The All Blacks went back to plan A, keep hold of the ball and for the next 20 minutes Crawley did not get a touch. Despite the onslaught the All Blacks could not break down the ferocious Crawley defence lead by their impressive open side flank and No.8. Fly half Jordan Sayers had gone close with 2 penalties however they needed to turn pressure into points.
Following a break in midfield by centre James Brown the forwards carried the ball on. At the ruck scrum half Massimo Hiller drew the defence out before passing back inside the second row Adam Rez who ran on 10 metres and stretched for the line to score. Sayers added the extras to level the scores 7-7.
The All Blacks continued to dominate possession and territory stats. Props Paul Hasib and John Phillpot carried a lot during this period. Crawley killed the ball at a ruck after one such carry. Sayers kicked for the corner. At the lineout Hasib drove the ball.on before blindside flanker Russ Sailosi picked up and burrowed himself through a number of players to score in the corner. Sayers missed the extras 7-12.
The last 10 minutes of the half got a little scrappy with the All Blacks full back Owain Jenkins winning the tennis match putting up bomb after bomb in reply to the Crawley 10's low range kicks. With 5 minutes to go at a messy ruck club captain and hooker Ben Dewey was shown a yellow card after clearing out a Crawley player a little to vigrously.
The All Blacks saw out the last 5 minutes as Crawley came back into the game.
The All Blacks came out strongly again in the second half with winger John Rainima getting through a lot of work coming off his wing in search of some action. Once more Crawley's defence stayed steeley strong. After another drive by the Black pack the ball was spun back to OJ who drop kicked the ball through the up rights to extend the lead to 7-15.
At this point the All Blacks brought on some reinforcements with try scoring sensation prop Lee Collingbourne coming on for John Phillpot, along with Tony Cella sporting blond streaks at hooker.
The change of personnel took a few minutes to bed in and Crawley took their chance once more attacking from their own half showing great hands where once more their pocket rocket winger scored in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed 12-15.
In the last 20 minutes the All Black pack started to dominate with Rez, No.8 Dave Wattam and Sailosi making in roads with ball in hand.
After carrying a Crawley player over their own line the All Blacks packed down for the 5 metre scrum. Smelling blood the Black pack drove their opponents back over their own line where Wattam dottes down for the unconverted score 12-20.
Crawley were now looking tired having defended for large parts of the game.
Following a break in midfield by centre Dave Daly the pack took the ball on. At the next ruck Collingbourne picked up the ball and was propelled over the line by a wave of All Black players to score an unconverted try 12-25.
Crawley through the kitchen sink at the All Blacks and it was only some stern defence that kept them out for the last 5 minutes.
Burgess Hill now go into the final at East Grinstead on Sat 27th May vs the winner of Hove 2's vs Hastings.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match went to Adam Rez who was a rock all afternoon.