Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC, the Sussex All Blacks travelled to high flying Bromley RFC in their last league game of 2015.
The All Blacks were almost up to full strength that contained the best backline they have fielded this season.
After a disastrous journey on the “fun bus” the All Blacks arrived 20 minutes before kick off.
Bromley started at a canter showing the All Blacks why they were a title contender and how they won the Senior Vase at Twickenham last May. Their forwards carried well before their experienced fly half orchestrated proceedings bringing in his pacey and strong running backline or kicking sublimely for this outside 3 to chase hard.
After 30 minutes of total domination Bromley were 17-0 having scored 3 tries and 1 conversion. If it hadn’t been for relentless tackling by the All Back back row of Connor Chatfield, Christian Jones and Dave Wattam the score would have been a lot more.
At the 30th minute mark the All Blacks began to wake up. A 45 metre drop goal attempt by fly half Owain Jenkins just shaved under the cross bar and this was the catalyst that turned the game. In the forwards props Mark Hennessey and Paul Hasib combined well with second rowers Tim Daniel and Adam Rez to carry over the game line time and time again. In the backs scrum half Sam David was launching wave after wave of attack with centres Luke Mortell and Ant Baldwin carrying well and wingers Lewis O’Shea and Dave Daly getting plenty of touches out wide.
After 7 minutes of continued pressure with Bromley’s only response to give away penalties Hill won a penalty 5 metres out and the referee awarded a yellow card to the Bromley winger for killing the ball. The All Blacks smelt blood and chose to scrum. At the scrum the Black pack showed their power pushing the Bromley pack back over their own line where they splintered and broke off the scrum. As Hill No.8 Dave Wattam was about to touch down the referee awarded a penalty try that OJ converted, 17-7.
After the break the All Blacks played their best rugby of the season as they dominated the first 20 minutes. The forwards were carrying hard and offloading making great ground before the backs were showing some of the best play seen in many a year in a black shirt. At a penalty 5 metres from the line and right hand touchline, OJ got his hands on the ball and put in a perfect cross field kick for O’Shea who caught the ball and stepped two players before stretching for the line as he scored. Jenkins pushed the conversion wide in the high wind, 17-12.
This score was followed up by the best try of the game. Tim Daniel made a break in midfield before offloading to Wattam who set up a ruck 30 metres out. The ball was spun wide where OJ passed to George Yeates at full back who ran hard before passing to the looping OJ who passed to O’Shea who sprinted on 20 metres before passing back inside to OJ who ran in to score near the posts. The travelling support went wild as the Bromley support were left in disbelief. OJ converted for a 17- 19 lead. The All Blacks were on cloud 9 and were looking at a scalp.
Bromley however are a top LSE 3 club and they came back to life just as the All Blacks began to tire from their efforts in the first 30 minutes. They showed for the last 20 minutes that they possess a great team as the All Blacks began to slip off tackles racking up a number of tries to finish the game 39-19.
Despite the final score line the All Blacks can be proud of their efforts against a team that beat them 55-0 two seasons ago. They can also be pleased with their endeavour and with a few tweaks they will certainly take some scalps in 2016. Virtually all of the team put their hands up for the MoM award however the title went to prop Mark Hennessey who was called up late on Friday following illness. Having not played first team rugby in 4 years he took to it like a duck to water scrummaging his opposite man into the ground and carrying over the game line time and time again. The fun bus back to Burgess Hill was a Christmas themed affair with Santa and his 25 Elves.
With their next league game away Folkestone on the 9th January a team they narrowly lost to at home after going 22-0 up the All Blacks are looking forward to 2016. If anyone would like to play for the Sussex All Blacks, please get in contact with DoR Ross Hallifax on 07941 016836 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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