The football team were not the only club in Burgess Hill to celebrate on Saturday - the rubgy side lifted the Sussex Shield after beating BSMS (Medics) 51-7.
Steve Blanthorn caught all the action and celebrations on camera.
Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC travelled to Lewes RFC to play BSMS (Sussex Medics) in the final of the Sussex Shield. Having won the Shield 4 years ago also at Lewes the Sussex All Blacks were hoping history would repeat itself.
The All Blacks preparation had been meticulous for the final making sure everything was set for them to once more take home the silverware. What they hadn’t planned was their bus getting stuck in a ditch whilst attempting to turn around at the club! Luckily for the All Blacks they had a lot of travelling support and quickly the players were piled into cars and ferried down to Lewes.
The Medics were an unknown quantity to the men in black made up of students from the medical school and Brighton University. What we did know is they had walked their league this season and had racked up some big wins in both league and cup including a 70-0 vs Sussex Police in the quarter final.
With a full cup squad of 22 the men in black showed their strength in depth with full bench despite another 5-6 first team squad members missing out on selection. From the kick off the All Blacks took the game to the Medics but were met with some ferocious tackles from the Medics back row who were excellent all afternoon. The forwards led by hooker and captain Ben Dewey began to assert themselves on the Medics pack where at scrum time they began to drive them back and in the lose powerful running from the likes of Dave Wattam, Cris Leahy, Adam Rez, Tim Daniel and Connor Chatfield started to cause cracks in the Medics defence.
On the 10 minute mark following a number of collapsed scrums the All Blacks once more choose to scrum. After driving the medics back 5 metres the Medics scrum collapsed and the referee was left little choice than to award the penalty try. Fly half Rhys Clarke stepped up to kick the extras for a 7-0 lead.
The Medics came straight back at the All Blacks and using their powerful No.8 and Blindside flanker they punched some holes before passing out wide to their backs. The Medics outside centre showed his skills where he dummied and skipped through a tackle before offloading Sonny Bill Williams style to his winger who raced in and under the posts for the converted score 7-7.
The next 5-10 minutes it was fairly even with the Medics pinning back the All Blacks using the strong wind at their backs and the All Blacks attacking using combining their forwards and backs well. Around the 20-25th minute mark the All Blacks upped their game and scored a wonderful try. Following another kick down field by the medics the ball was collected by centre Luke Mortell who passed to full back Owain Jenkins who was running at full tilt. OJ sprinted through a gap and down the wing before passing inside to his No.8 Dave Wattam. Wattam took the ball on to within 5 metres of the Medics line. At the ruck second row Tim Daniel picked the ball up and carried it over the line for the unconverted score 12-7.
From the restart Mortell gathered and went on a mazey run before drawing two tacklers where he offloaded to winger Max Wilson who sprinted on 30 metres kicking out of one tackle to score in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed in the strong wind 17-7.
It was one way traffic now as the forwards gave the All Blacks the perfect platform to attack from. The next score came from a scrum on the 10 metre line near the right touchline. Scrum half Massimo Hiller passed to Clarke who noticing the press defence dummied his backline before stepping the Medics fly half where he pinned his ears back and scored in the corner. Once again the wind stopped the extras being added 22-7.
The final try of the half once again followed an OJ break where this time he passed inside to Chatfield who in turn passed inside to Wattam who ran on with a Medic on his back for 5 metres before crashing over in the corner for the unconverted score 27-7.
At half time the All Blacks regrouped and refuelled and made a number of personnel changes. On came Will Arney and Darren Coulton at prop, Simon Eyre at second row and Sam David at scrum half. The changes gave the black pack even more dominance as Coulton and Arney gave their opposition a lesson in the dark arts. The onslaught continued with Eyre, Rez and Daniel devastating in the loose and the centre pairing of Mortell and Jordan Sayers showing experience well beyond their years.
The next score was a beauty, following a kick through the Medics cleared their lines only for the ball to land in the hands of Arney. Arney at full tilt is a site to be seen like a runaway dump truck carrying a full load. On route to the try line he boshed 2, side stepped 1 and carried another Medic over into the corner for unconverted score 32-7.
A number of chances went begging out wide where passes were forced instead of building up the to the score. The forwards settled things with a pushover scrum where Wattam dotted down which signalled the end of contested scrums for the Medics as players lay strewn on the floor, 37-7.
At 118kg Simon Eyre showed his footwork for the next score beating two defenders before offloading to Arney who took the ball to within 5 metres. At the ruck Daniel once more picked up and supported by Tim Baglole and Dewey crashed over the line for his second score. Clarke added the extras 44-7.
The final score went to the backs who following a training ground move opened up a gap in the centre for OJ to run through before pirouetting like a ballerina in a rendition of swan lake around the full back to score under the posts much the enjoyment of the large and vociferous crowd. Clarke added the extras for a final score of 51-7.
In the end the All Blacks were simply too strong for the Medics who showed great heart, grit and skills despite the heavy score line of 9 tries to 1.
At the presentation captain Ben Dewey received the shield and the large travelling supported applauded with gusto.
Next week sees the men in black’s biggest game of the season as they take on Sheppey RFC for a place in London South East Division 3 next season. The play-off game is at home for the All Blacks with a 2:30pm KO and a large crowd is once more expected. Having lost to Sheppey in the play off 4 seasons ago at their place the All Blacks will be looking to avenge this result at home. With all 3 senior teams finishing in the top half of their league tables it has been a tremendous year for the Sussex All Blacks and with 1 game to go everyone is hoping they can put the icing on the cake.