Tough Conditions at Steel Cross, Prevent Flowing Rugby
By Ian Geering
Never the less, Boro' come out on top after defensive master class ..........
Match Report by Graham Callard.
Our Referee today - Michael Ellis.
Based on the state of the pitch on Friday it was some miracle this game was able to take place on Saturday. A testament to the work of the ground staff. Sadly the rain returned just as the game kicked off but Crowborough riding high at the top of league and Folkestone on a five game unbeaten run were still able to serve up a compelling encounter.
It was the visitors who started much the stronger. It was clear why that had gone five unbeaten with their well drilled forwards and lively backs linking well despite the heavy underfoot conditions. For Crowborough it was defence, defence, defence. Not a tackle missed and no quarter given. It was a crunching tackle from Harry Slatter that enabled the home side to relieve the pressure and finally turn the tables and get Crowborough's offensive game going. Some 13 minutes in Crowborough found themselves deep in the Folkestone half after some excellent support play throughout the side. From the next phase of play, Tom Kent went close but was bundled into touch at the last minute. A couple of moments later the Crowborough Pack, took control of the scrum and pushed Folkestone back with Tom Kent being rewarded with the try. In these conditions, the conversion was always going to be difficult, as the kick went wide of the upright. 5 - 0.
Crowborough now started to play with a little more freedom. Outside half Connor Hand put in an excellent cross field kick caught on the run wide out by Bertie Boast. With Lloyd Smith on his shoulder and with a clear run to the line Bertie Boast, much to the consternation of the large crowd, kicked ahead and the opportunity was wasted.
Folkestone were next to score after they had managed the worsening conditions well. Crowborough's excellent defence transgressed allowing the "Stones" full back to slot the penalty. 5-3. This spurred the visitors on and they now were on the ascendency. Crowborough didn't do themselves any favours by being overly ambitions in the ever worsening conditions. Yet again 'Borough's excellent defence alignment kept the visitors at bay. Once again the home side turned defence into attack with another Hands speculative cross field kick. This time the ball was miss-fielded by Folkestone and fortuitously found its way into the hands of Bertie Boast. This time no mistakes as he galloped a full fifty meters for the score. Connor Hand unfortunately hit the upright so miss the chance to take the extras. Both sides had good opportunities in the final ten minutes of the half. One such sweeping Crowborough move was adjudged forward by the referee, who had an excellent day, bringing the half to a close at 10-3.
Folkestone again started much the stronger with some powerful play. The defence was again up to the challenge. With the weather now diabolical both sides tried too hard to play open rugby. Passes were wayward and often unsympathetic so the game became very scrappy. Crowborough at last realised the open game was not going to reap reward so they turned to power and keeping the ball tight. With Will Creasy on the charge they made meter after meter. The forwards took the ball deep into the Folkestone half. For the first time the difference in league positions showed with Crowborough really turning the screw. The ball was over the line on several occasions but held up. After ensuing scrums were persistently collapsed the referees patience cracked and he awarded Crowborough a penalty try.
Folkestone were not to lie down and put Crowborough back on the defensive and scored a well deserved try late on which was amazingly converted out of the now swamp like conditions from wide out. With eight minutes to go Crowborough held out for the win 17-10. On the balance of play Crowborough deserved the win but only just and it was their defence that won the day. Credit must go to both sides for putting on such an entertaining contest in the conditions with a special mention to the man in the middle. His input was a significant factor in making this game worth sticking with despite most spectators being soaked to the skin.
Crowborough travel to Lewes tomorrow where they will face another tough battle if they are to stay at the top of the table.