Fine lines !
The Final Play, could have given Borough 4 points instead of the 1 losing bonus point.
Our Referee today was Mr Tim Hartley (SSRFUR).
Match Report By Rick Howe.
Crowborough welcomed old friends from Bromley to Steel Cross last Saturday after a few seasons break, coinciding with the arrival of autumn storm “Brian”, which for the preceding twelve hours had dumped several centimetres of rain onto the ‘Boro pitch. In previous seasons the game may have been in doubt , but this was the test that the ground staff had secretly hoped for, and on cue a perfect tract awaited, as the teams ran onto the field.
Apart from an earlier blip at the start of the season, Bromley have recorded an unbeaten run to take second place in the league, with Crowborough’s inconsistency keeping them tantalisingly in sixth place, just waiting for that all round complete performance that they have promised so often, but just failed to deliver.
For the first half hour of this encounter both sides ignored the conditions and the “ten man rugby” that many had predicted, and tried to play expansive running rugby. However the blustery conditions and slick ball made handling difficult and errors abounded. Uncompromising defence by both sides nullified attacks, and in the end it was always going to be the side that adapted best to the conditions; managed the game, and took what limited opportunities presented themselves, that would edge the game.
After 25 minutes, with ‘Boro continually pressing but to no avail, it was Bromley who having kicked deep right into the ‘Boro 22, charged down an attempted clearance, and from the ensuing ruck, Bromley’s # 9 George Scott, ( who in the writers opinion was to prove, not only to be a real irritant but “man of the match”) dummied an inside pass before releasing centre John Griffith who , with the ‘Boro back three dragged way out of position, found winger Fred Bender in acres of space leaving him the simple task of trotting in to score out wide for a well converted try.0-7
With the strengthening wind marginally in Bromley’s favour Crowborough would have been content with a seven point margin at half time, and as the half hour mark approached Chris Yates reduced the deficit to 4 points with a well struck penalty.3-7
At this point, Bromley altered their tactics, and ignore the outside channels that were fast becoming a lottery, and in an attempt to put daylight between the two sides, gave the responsibility to their pack to keep it tight and trundle, drive by drive, deeper into the 'Boro ‘half . With three minutes to go the driving maul took it’s toll and at the worst possible time, Bromley added five points with an unconverted try as their pack crossed the line. 3-12
With just nine points dividing the side, Crowborough were still in the game as the second half kicked off. ‘Boro put the visitors under continued pressure throughout the half, but were still unable to take advantage of the increasing possession that they were getting, and with the backs still in ‘expansive alignment’, and the wind making even medium distance passing a gamble, the ball either missed it’s intended target or was frustratingly mishandled. As a result rather than closing the gaps in the line , then providing the fast close support that would break the defensive line, they continued with the tactic that too many times saw the outside support ignored, in favour of the ball carrier trying to exploit non-existent gaps, taking all momentum out of the move.
Like Bromley in the first half, it was left to the pack to bring a semblance of control to the games direction, and with 30 minutes of the half gone and no additional scores recorded, the ‘Boro pack drove deep into the Bromley 22, momentarily held up three metres out, before Alex Purnell peeled off the back to crash over for the score with Chris Yates from the touch line, adding the two points and bringing ‘Boro within a whisker of the visitors and the win still in sight.
The final ten minutes were all Crowborough, but dogged Bromley defence ensured they failed to cross the line. Needing just a three point penalty to take the win and not content with a losing bonus point, ‘Boro drove into the Bromley half, but rather than keeping it tight in the centre of the field and driving to within kicking range, the ball went out wide to the left, and although the attack was again held up just short of the line, the referee felt that there was illegal interference and awarded ‘Boro the penalty --------with no time left on the clock. Crucially the penalty was awarded at extreme range on the left touchline, and facing into an increasing wind. Chris Yates tee’d up the ball and struck it well, but agonisingly it shaved the right upright as the referee blew for full time. 10-12.