Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted Seaford in the league.
Both teams had their eye on the next stage of the season where the top four go into a mini promotion and play off league and the bottom four into a relegation survival league.
With the All Blacks in fourth and Seaford in fifth the game had special significance.
The All Blacks suffered two set backs in the warm up with fly half Rich Fleming pulling his back and scrum half OJ falling ill. A quick reshuffle and some pain killers saw Fleming take to the field and OJ to the bench.
The All Blacks started well using their pack to make in roads coming down the slope in the incredibly wet and muddy conditions. The black pack were exerting themselves at scrum time and won a string of penalties.
During this period the All Blacks missed two shots at goal and failed to captilise on their dominance.
After 20 minutes of continual pressure another penalty saw a change of kicker with centre Dave Daly slotting the three points.
This penalty was ruled out minutes later when flanker James Brown was harshly penalised for a turnover which the Seaford full back converted to level the scores 3-3.
The All Blacks continued to press for the try and incredible try line defence by Seaford kept out wave after wave of attack. Notable players during this period were flanker Eddie Chekera, prop Lee Collingbourne and second row Simon Eyre.
Seaford came out in the second half pinning the All Blacks back through the boot of their full back.
One such kick saw the All Blacks get carried into touch. At the lineout Seaford knocked on and the All Blacks were awarded a scrum eight metres from the line. Seaford lead by their talisman number 8 Danny Newby put on the shove takin the ball against the head where it was spun wide for their fly half to score a converted try 3-10. To add insult to injury the All Blacks lost hooker Tony Cella with a pulled groin resulting in another switch around of resources.
The All Blacks came straight back at Seaford and an All Black scrum in the Seaford half saw centre Jordan Sayers arc outside his opposite man before crashing over the line. Daly added the extras 10-10.
Seaford continued to keep the All Blacks pinned back in their own half forcing them to run in the now slurry like conditions.
At the ruck stand in scrum half Adam Rez passed the ball at the feet of Fleming who spilled the ball only for the on rushing Seaford players to pounce and score. The Seaford full back added the extras to lead 10-17.
Flanker James Brown had to leave the field with an arm injury with 10 minutes left meaning OJ had to come of his sick bed to play.
Despite having the complexion of a ghost, OJ inmediately changed the game putting the All Blacks in the right areas of the field with his boot.
The men in black pounded away at the Seaford line and were twice held up over the line in the process of scoring.
With seconds left on the clock the ball was passed blind where OJ sprinted in between two defenders to score in the corner. With Daly now also off injured, OJ took his own kick narrowly missing the extras to end the game 15-17.
Despite the loss, the All Blacks progress into the top four promotion league as a result of a losing bonus point. All credit must go to Seaford who had not beaten the All Blacks at home for eight years.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match winning a bottle of English Fizz went to second row Adam Rez who filled in very well at scrum half in the second half.
Next week the All Blacks are in Sussex Cup action this time away to Seaford KO 1:30pm.