Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks started their league campaign against their bogey team Hellingly.
For the last three seasons both clubs have loat at home but won on the road.
The All Blacks came into this fixture off the back of a good pre season campaign that had seen them put 2 good sides from Hampshire and Essex to the sword.
As with whenever we play Hellingly the inevitable happened and we had a players wedding on top of the usual work, holiday and illness. This meant the All Blacks had to move their second row into the front row and back row into the second row. What this provided was a much quicker pack that lacked some size and power.
The first 10 minutes of the game were pretty even with both teams testing out each others defences. After that Hellingly began to dominate proceedings using their powerful pack, hard carrying no.8 and good half backs to great effect.
It was one wag traffic with the All Blacks defending for their lives. All Blacks second row Jamie Dimelow was racking up the tackles during this period.
After relentless attacking a Hellingly player crossed the white wash in the left hand corner for the unconverted score.
Hellingly continued to pile on the pressure for the remainder of the half and and exquiste pass from their centre to wing resulted in another unconverted score in the right hand corner this time, 0-10.
The All Blacks liked their wounds at half time and came out with a flurry. A turnover on halfway by stand in hooker Adam Rez saw him run on before passing to his winger and the supporting back row who passed back to him to dive into the corner. Jordan Sayers converted from the touchline, 7-10.
The All Blacks looked invigorated by the score and saw a chance to get back in the game.
Despite this it was Hellingly who scored next after a bust in midfield saw the ball passed wide and their pacey fly half went in for the unconverted score, 7-15.
The All Blacks came straight back at the men in yellow and black and were awarded a penalty that Sayers converted 10-15.
The final 20 minutes had more controversy than an Eastenders Christmas special.
First off the bat, the All Blacks were awarded a penalty and yellow card against them after their player was high tackled. Hellingly converted the penalty to extend their lead 10-18.
The All Blacks came back hard at Hellingly and throw the kitchen sink at the self titled Loonies.
After a good break by the All Blacks backs winger Lee Hubble looked certain to score in the corner as he was high tackled in the process of scoring. No penalty or penalty try was given.
Next the Black pack put the squeeze on at the scrum 5 metres out and after driving the Hellingly pack back who collapsed the scrum a free kick was awarded Hellingly for the All Blacks not using it.
Another break in midfield by the All Blacks saw the ball finally go down the hands for flanker James Brown to score in the corner, 15-18. With 60 seconds left on the clock, captain Dave Wattam decided not to take the conversion so as to receive the ball from the KO.
The All Blacks were now on fire with Hellingly dead on their feet. The ball was taken from the kick off and driven forward. At the ruck the ball was spun wide where a lose pass saw the ball go forward to end the game 15-18.
The All Blacks were gutted at the result especially as they felt hard done by in the last 20 ninutes. Despite this Hellingly deserved their win after dominating the first 40 minutes.
Next week the All Blacks travel to promoted East Grinstead KO 3pm.