Boro' Go home with just a single losing bonus point.......
After what was a difficult dis-jointed afternoon !
After an absence of several seasons Crowborough made a disappointing return to Crawley RFC coming away with just a losing bonus point. Fielding a much changed side from last weekend the men from Steel Cross started brightly. A break from Conor Hand and a chip ahead nearly coming off for the first score.
It was Crawley, much against the run of play, who scored first. The home scrum half Steve Wilson pounced on a loose ball and weaved his way past a couple of would be tacklers for a 45 metres solo effort. The conversion was missed.
The score put the visitors on the back foot and gave Crawley the impetus to attack. 'Borough were living off scraps but did make a nice break out wide only for the scoring chance to be thwarted, in part by good Crawley defence, but also in part by a very harsh refereeing decision. It was against a background of Crawley pressure and excellent Crowborough defence that the Steel Cross men levelled the score. Sloppy midfield handling by the hosts saw the ball spill into the path of the onrushing Gary Stevens
who hacked the ball towards the Crawley line. Tom McMahon
was quick to see the opportunity and won the foot race for the try.
20 minutes into the game Crowborough regained the advantage and drove deep into the Crawley half where the hosts conceded a silly penalty. From the ensuing kick to touch and then the lineout the men in red and white scored their second try. The ball was secured and very skillfully and powerfully mauled over the line for Alex Purnell
to take the glory.
The rest of the first half saw both sides attack well but only to be held up by excellent defensive work or for attacks to break down thanks to poor handling and erratic decision making. The quality of the game wasn't helped by the regular intervention of the referee, with Crowborough on the wrong end on many of the penalty awards. Crawley could have led at half time but failed to convert a penalty kick at goal, likewise Crowborough squandered an overlap out wide. Half time 5-10.
The second half started in a similar vein with too many basic errors and too much whistle. Crawley came closest to scoring after concerted pressure on Crowborough's line. They got the ball over the line only for the referee to rule it had been held up. From the resulting attacking scrum Crawley were again thwarted with the ball being held up over the line. The third Crawley attempt saw a forward pass mean the try was ruled out. Eventually Crowborough were able to clear their line, much to the relief of the large visiting contingent. Buoyed by this Crowborough's pack started to make ground on their opposition enabling spritely Tom West
to release his backs. Bertie Boast
and Tom McMahon
made some telling breaks only for supporting players to spill the ball at crucial moments. Crowborough also failed to turn long periods of pressure into points.
With about 18 minutes to go the referee took a nasty knock and for a while it looked as if the game would have to be abandoned. He recovered well and from the scrum awarded to Crawley they took the lead. To many on the side the scrum had wheeled too far but the referee thought differently. Crawley's Fraser Thompson, doing what all good players should do; play to the whistle picked the ball up and scampered over for the try. He added the extras taking the score to 12-10.
Crowborough went back on the offensive but sadly couldn't convert two kickable penalties and were also frustrated by the solid Crawley defensive wall when they tried to maul the ball over the line. Late on Damien Hayes
who had put in an excellent shift for 'Borough saw yellow when he was very harshly deemed to have collapsed a maul, particularly as Crawley had appeared to commit the same offence three times previously. The game nearly swung Crowborough's way when except for an amazing last ditch tackle prevented Tom Watson breaking free. The game closed with Crawley running out victors 12-10 and 'Borough going home with just a losing bonus point.