Two points on the board, after a tough afternoon at Old Willies
By Ian Geering
The young borough side worked hard after the slow start, but got back in the game by half time. The trouble is they could or should have stole all 5 points at the end......
On a high scoring weekend that gave few indicators as to how the season may unfold, Crowborough came off second best in this opening encounter, and although naturally disappointed they should not be disheartened after putting in a competent and highly entertaining display.
Both sides were well matched last season, when Crowborough won at home and lost by two points in this corresponding fixture at the end of last season, and this campaign looks set to be a continuation of their close rivalry.
‘Boro continue to be slow starters when travelling away, and were once more on the wrong side of the scorline 12-0 down after 15 minutes, through two tries created by the half backs who held up the pass, drawing the defence before popping the pass to fast arriving centres, who cleverly targeted the inside arms of their opposite numbers simply shrugging off the attempted tackles to score. 12-0
A further attempt was knocked on with the line begging , but the telling chinks in the armoury of both sides was the escalating number of penalties awarded by Crowborough, but more tellingly the number of kicks at goal that were ignored by OW’s , indicating a lack of kicking strength which on a small pitch should have been a distinct advantage.
Having given the opposition their customary advantage Crowborough started to put their game together, and with the forwards providing quick ball to the backs several slick ,direct and effective passes down the back line put pressure on the home defence for the first time. In front of the posts the forwards recycled the ball several times before Tom West
picked up dummied right before seeing the gap to run in un-opposed under the posts for a well-deserved try that Sam Kisbee
Throughout this match the ‘Boro back row kept a lid on the dangerous OW half backs and defended the channels close in, no more so than Callum Main
whose contribution was a master class in tackling, a lesson from whom many would benefit, as yet another soft try was score out wide by the OW prop who trundled 10 metres brushing away two would be tacklers. The kick was successful. 19-7
‘Boro once more set about reducing the deficit and having reached the OW five metre line with some impressive running, it was Harry Slatter
who crossed the line for another Sam Kisbee
From the kick off man of the match Harrison Chapman
, fielded in his own 22, and immediately set off up field supported by Callum Main
, Connor Hand
and Sam Kisbee
. The ball was inter-passed between the three before Gary Stevens
and Tom Boddy
arrived, taking the ball deep into the OW 22 and with the defence at sixes and sevens. As the maul developed it was Callum Main
who emerged to claim an excellent team try and with Sam Kisbee
’s unfortunately missing the conversion, the half time score level at 19-19.
As the second half started OW’s once more attacked the right corner and looked certain to score, but for an excellent last ditch scrag tackle by Callum Main
. However the move was not finished as the OW pack tried desperately with several pick and drives to get over the line, but were met by an even more resilient ‘Boro defence, led by the redoubtable Nick Hill
that turned the ball over allowing Sam Kisbee
to send a clearance kick the length of the field.
The match continued to see-saw with neither side able to get a clear advantage, until 15 minutes from the end when again the OW#9 found a glimmer of space to wriggle through to end the deadlock with a converted try 24-19.
Still reeling from giving away a simple score ‘Boro were then guilty of allowing the OW wing too much space and once more with the weak inside should was tested against two defenders, allowing the unconverted score out wide with 10 minutes to go and taking ‘Boro out of losing bonus point territory. 29-19
‘Boro knew they were better than this and once more camped deep in the OW 22, and when an attempted clearance was charged down, Gary Stevens
was on hand to collect the ball and cross the line for another Sam Kisbee
converted score that now left the game finely balanced with neither side, nor their supporters, sure who would take the spoils in the final 6 minutes.29-26
Crowborough had the chance of levelling the match with a kickable penalty two minutes later, but a quick tap and go to win the encounter, saw them held up on the line where the ball was agonisingly turned over and cleared into touch.
From the lineout OW ran the ball into the ‘Boro 22, but the ‘Boro defence held, and with the clock now in the red West fed Kisbee who slung a long pass to debutant Greame Francis who made 40 metres before releasing Bertie Boast
and then Richard Taylor
on the wing. With the cover coming across, and line 15 metres away it would be a close run thing. However as Richard Taylor
cut inside he passed to Bertie Boast
, but as the cover arrived, the ball was dislodged, and a grateful centre hoisted the ball into touch to bring an excellent feast of rugby to an end. 29-26
With a few new debutants this young ‘Boro side is essentially the same as last season, but now with added experience and maturity, and with players due to return in the coming weeks the confidence of the squad is set to be at a high level.
At Steel Cross the second part of the squad took on a Rye 1st XV and showed why they are part of the first team squad with an emphatic 39-5 win.
Next week ‘Boro open their home campaign, welcoming near neighbours Lewes, who also had a narrow loss this week to Pulborough.