A Tough Day on the Island .....
Our trip to Isle of Sheppey was made difficult by a well drilled defensive home side. Never- the-less we came away with 5 points !
Match Report by Rick Howe
Our Referee today was Mr Simon Bigham
On a bitterly cold afternoon, Crowborough travelled to the North Kent coast after the Christmas break, anxious to turn around their faltering season. Much to their credit, a healthy contingent of the “travelling faithful”, that almost equalled those of the home side, made the journey in anticipation of a much promised revival of fortunes.
Crowborough started off in lively fashion, indicating that their intent was serious. Some fine running lines and slick off-loading, particularly by 2nd row Harry Slatter, saw ‘Boro monopolise early possession.
With five minutes gone Chris Yates came into the line from #15, to provide support to a promising attack, taking the pass from Bert Boast before committing the Sheppey wing before feeding Sam Kisbee on the run-round. Sam Kisbee then evaded two attempted tackles before cruising in under the posts for a well worked try. Chris Yates converted 0-7.
Whether it was the numbing cold that made handling a lottery, or travel fatigue is unclear, but that promising start was not to be the hoped for revival, as within minutes Sheppey were level following a catalogue of defensive errors that multiplied their comedic effect with each attempted touch of the ball.
An initial wayward pass to Chris Yates intended for a clearance to touch, was firstly knocked back over the try line, then with the Sheppey back row baring down, and sensing an opportunity, the attempted pick up was again mishandled and with other defenders watching on, the Sheppey flanker touched down for the converted score to level the game at 7-7.
Crowborough could and should have recovered their composure at this point, but in spite of having two quick opportunities to regain the advantage with attacks that finished five metres from the Sheppey line, poor discipline saw Sheppey awarded penalties to clear their line. On the second occasion a long clearance set up a ruck, and despite some exceptional defensive work by Callum Main, the large Sheppey pack drove over for an unlikely seven pointer where the score remained until half time. 14-7
The ‘Boro coaches were clearly agitated with the variability of both the collective and several individual performances, which, after some choice words of advice at the break appeared to have the desired effect.
Matt Eyres who came on for Andy Orchard was the first to show renewed vigour, when taking a flat pass at pace, broke through at least six Sheppey defenders, only to be brought down ten metres short of the line. The pack arrived as one and the resulting maul was driven on with captain Alex Purnell crossing the line for the unconverted try. 14-12
Encouraged by their ability to take the game to their opponents, Sam Kisbee was once more on the score sheet , when, with Sam Perry screaming for a cross field kick, Sam Kisbee threw an outrageously impossible dummy that nevertheless wrong-footed three defenders and opened up the gap which he duly exploited with Chris Yates converting. 14-19.
This was the time to kill the game off, and indeed it appeared to have been some five minutes later, when Sam Perry was released on the left wing. As he rounded his opposite number he was scagged by the neck as he crossed the line and bundled into touch, in goal.
With calls for a penalty try unheeded, a five metre scrum was awarded to Boro. Incensed at this apparent injustice, the adrenaline kicked in as the lighter Boro eight drove, what must be one of the league’s biggest packs, back over their own line for another Alex Purnell unconverted and bonus point try, but still 10 minutes to go.14-24
Sheppey were not finished yet, and in a moment of confusion, a quick penalty was taken five metres out from the ‘Boro line resulting in another seven points for the home side. 21-24.
Chris Yates added a penalty two minutes from the end to take the final score to 21-27.
For fully 25 minutes Crowborough played some excellent attacking rugby to put themselves in 7th place in the league, but for 55 minutes they either failed to play what was in front of them in order to kill the game off, or just simply took the wrong option in the heat of the moment. This was the first game after a long lay-off which hopefully will provide a base on which to build for next week’s visit to second placed Aylesford Bulls.
Back at Steel Cross the second and third sides ensured a clean sweep with Crowborough 2nd XV 65 vs Eastbourne 2nd 0 and
Crowborough 3rd XV s 19 v’s East Grinstead 3rd XV 0