Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted East Grinstead in the league.
Having performed a Lazarus like comeback in the away fixture going in 27-0 down and winning 27-29 with the last play of the game the men in black new this would be a tough encounter.
With an ever increasing injury list the All Blacks made 10 changes to the side the faced Crawley the week before. Playing down the slope the first half belonged to East Grinstead who using their large pack punched holes in the All Blacks defence before the backline looked to move the ball. The All Blacks with all the changes were struggling to get to grips with the game. You can see a picture gallery of Burgess Hill RFC v East Grinstead here
EG struck first following a penalty in midfield, their fly half converted, 0-3.
The All Blacks then came back and after a series of forward drives the ball was spun wide to the backs where fly half Rich Fleming released the centre pairing of Dab Vugona and John Rainima who passed to Josh Korosaiya who dived into the corner for the unconverted try, 5-3.
The rest of the half belonged to EG. Following a blindside break at a ruck, All Blacks No.8 Dave Wattam dragged down the winger in the corner to stop the try but then the support saw the ball passed out to the full back who dived into the corner for the unconverted score, 5-8.
EG continued to press using their powerful and rangey second row and tight head prop. In reply the All Blacks could only give away penalties. EG kicked to the corner and went for the lineout drive. The men in black thwarted the drive but prop Lee Collingbourne was shown a yellow card.
EG then choose to scrummage and the first buckled and collapsed and the second was driving over the line before collapsing where the referee awarded a penalty try, 5-12. The All Backs made a rare tirade into the EG half and won a penalty that full back Alex Bone converted from 40 metres out. 8-12.
EG smelt blood and continued to pile on the pressure and won another 2 penalties that their fly half converted, 8-18.
With minutes left of the half EG kicked long where the All Backs gathered and set up a ruck. As the ball was passed out for the clearance kick EG pressed hard and charged down the ball before touching down for the unconverted score, 8-23. The half time talk in the All Backs camp was all about how to turn the result around using the memory of the away fixture as the blue print.
The All Blacks came out in the second half and immediately won a penalty which Bone converted, 11-23.
EG replied with one of their own as an All Black player was penalised for not rolling away, 11-26. Once more the All Blacks won a penalty and dead eye Bone once more converted, 14-26.
The forwards then began to assert themselves and second row Adam Rez made a break supported by hooker Lewis Strong. Rez drew the full back passing to strong who scored next to the posts. Bone added the extras, 21-26.
The crowd could feel the energy rising in the All Blacks camp and the noise was building as they pressed for further scores with the clock ticking away.
Another penalty by Bone took the men in black to within two points, 24-26.
With three minutes on the clock the All Blacks were throwing the kitchen sink at it. Forwards were carrying supported by backs and Fleming was marshalling his backline.
Tick vs tock the clock was going down and the tension was high. A carry by the forwards saw a ruck 35 metres out.
Fleming called for the ball and released centre Vugona who sprinted 15 metres before drawing the full back and passing to Rainima who went in 10 metres to the left of the post. Bone added the extras for the All Backs to win the game in the last play, 31-26.
The place erupted as the All Blacks had repeated their feat from the away fixture. EG rightfully looked dispondent.
The Sussex All Blacks man of the match winning a bottle of award winning Ridgeview Wine Estate English Fizz was full Back Alex Bone for his imperious kicking that saw him amass 16 points with his boot. Next week the All Blacks are in away to Uckfield in the league KO 2pm.