Yet Another Close Encounter
By Ian Geering
That went the way of the Old Willies, deep into stoppage time.
Match Report By Rick Howe.
Crowborough’s roller coaster ride in SE3 continued yesterday. With the score finely balanced at 19-22 the referee awarded a penalty to OW’s indicating that these would be the final plays. Faced with the dilemma of a risky kick, to at best draw or face a loss, OW’s elected to kick for touch and use their pack in one final effort from the lineout.
Sixty nine minutes earlier OW’s attacked up the hill, and their speedy left wing rounded Connor Hand who was left clawing at the empty space. The conversion rattled the bar but registered the home side’s intention to attack at every opportunity.
Crowborough, with a changed line up from the previous week, made it difficult for their hosts with some exceptional defensive work, waiting for OW’s to make the mistakes that they could ultimately capitalise on.
This came on the twenty minute mark when the ‘Boro pack seized on a loose ball, and as it was recycled Will Creasey emerged from the back of the maul, to see the line twenty-five metres away. Blasting through two attempted tackles with his high knee action and brushing off the un-wanted attention of the full back, he crossed the line still looking to off-load before grounding the ball, for a Chris Yates converted try. 5-7
Moments later Tom West exploited the left side of the scrum, avoiding the back row and covering wing to crash over for another Chris Yates converted try. 5-14.
On a roll once more , and needing another score before half time to kill off any lingering resistance, Crowborough proceeded to re-enact a scene from an Ealing Studio farce with several unnecessary pieces of play that allowed the home side back into the match.
Firstly a speculative attacking kick, crossed the ‘Boro try line, and with no follow up there were several options, the least likely of which would be to put the ball down. From the restart the options again were varied, the least of which would have been a quick tap and pass. The pass, however was received and run out of defence, at which point it appeared that trouble had been averted, until an unnecessary kick forward rebounded off the defender fully thirty metres back towards the ‘Boro 22, where it was retrieved and a secondary attack with a two man overlap was looking a definite possibility, until the first delayed pass found a lurking OW defender, who could not believe his luck as he strode in to score under the posts for a converted try, taking the half time score to 12-14 and allowing the hosts back into the match.
Soon after play resumed, Crowborough were once more on the score sheet when Bertie Boast placed a well weighted kick between the centre pairing, with both he and Ali Main giving chase. There was a vague suspicion of a knock on but if a TMO had been present he would have concluded that the knock on was in fact a knock back by the defender that went over the line for Ali Main to ground. The kick was pulled wide. 12-19.
During the season when Crowborough have contested close games they have often been the architects of their own demise, and the remaining 10 minutes of this match was to be no different. Firstly Ali Main left the field with a torn ham string, and as the backs were reorganising, OW’s attacked down the right wing when a reckless high tackle on the player about to score saw the referee award a penalty try and Bertie Boast a yellow card. 19-19
Chris Yates brought a moment of relief to the team with a weird penalty kick that flew for 35 metres, never getting more than a couple of inches above the bar height. 19-22
The remaining minutes, with a decimated back line, had to be controlled nine man rugby, preferably played in the opposition half. However ‘Boro had been up against one of the bigger packs they had come across all season and getting hold of suitable ball to clear up field was proving difficult, so when ‘Boro transgressed on their own 22 out wide on the right with just moments to go, OW were left with the unenviable choice of whether to go for goal and draw the match or for the try to win it.
The OW lineout was won, and their adrenaline boosted drive, drove the ‘Boro eight over the line for the brave score that was unconverted. 24-22.