Sussex All Blacks muscled out in their big finish to the season

BURGESS HILL’S rugby players were well beaten in the biggest game in the club’s 48-year history on Saturday but it remains a successful season for the club.

Apart from finishing second in the league, they also picked up the Sussex Shield and special mention must go to player coaches Owain Jenkins and Peter Ward who have put everything into the cause.

Sadly, it was not quite enough on Saturday when the Sussex All Blacks went to Sheppey for a play-off match to earn the right to play in London & South East 3 next season. They earned that right at the expense of Hastings a week earlier.

But the Kent hosts had a major weight and height advantage and it told as they ran out 42-10 victors.

Whether it was the occasion or a long, hard season but Hill seemed intimidated in the early exchanges and were soon trailing when the home No 8 picked up at a scrum 15 metres out and sent over his winger for an unconverted try.

That at least woke up the visitors and there was a rally led by hooker Nick Easts, scrum half Dave McComiskey and No 8 Karl Atkinson. Hill also made good use of the line out where second row Tim Daniel and openside flanker Christian Jones jumped well.

But despite a spell of stability, it was Sheppey who scored another two tries by utilising their powerful pack, notably their excellent tight head prop.

The 15-0 half-time deficit was transformed into 37-0 during the first 20 minutes of the second period as Sheppey scored three more tries, two of which were converted, and a penalty.

Despite the onslaught, Hill regathered and when Jones took a line out 15 metres from the home line, a rolling maul was set up from which the big Sheppey pack was driven back over the line for Atkinson to get the touch down.

The response was a try in the corner before Hill had the last word as a spell of sustained pressure ended with left winger James Mackie leaving four defenders in his wake as he powered over. Clearly it was not Hill’s day but it was still a memorable season.