Borough in control during a tight game at Steel Cross
By Ian Geering
Pulborough had to defended well, during many of the Crow's attacks !
This week 's report is written by Rick Howe.
Our Referee this week was Gareth Edwards.
A large boisterous crowd, devoid of rugby for three weeks turned out at Steel Cross for this return encounter between the two ‘Boros. In the fixture last September Crowborough came out the victors with a resounding 33-14 win, and it was clear that Pulborough were relishing the opportunity to revenge what they and others saw as a severe injustice.
Crowborough started lively but showed signs of an enjoyable festive period, with some poor decision making, sluggish passing and a leisurely line speed, that handed over possession to Pulborough far too often. This could have had consequences had it not been for the quality defensive work led by the ubiquitous Callum Main.
Pulborough are a quality outfit with forwards and backs that link seamlessly, and during the first twenty minutes contested equally with the Crowborough eight for every loose, ball slowing down any quality possession.
One piece of rare quick ball saw Connor Hand feed Gary Stevens who off-loaded to Harry Marchesi on the wing who was held up just short of the line. As the forwards piled in it was Harry Slatter who arrived to secure the ball and dot it over the line for the opening score which went unconverted. 5-0
Rather than galvanise the home side to greater things this score just served to revitalise the efforts of the visitors who with some enterprising interplay between forwards and backs drove into the Crowborough half. As the initial move broke down Pulborough drew in the Crowborough defence which lined up narrowly, so that when the Pulborough #9 released his backs Sam Kisbee on the right wing was left facing three attacking backs arriving at pace. Forcing the first to pass and tackling the second it was all too much to prevent a well-deserved equalling try from the third, that also went unconverted. 5-5 .
With the half drawing to an end, it was from a Pulborough attack and kick forward, that Sam Kisbee scooped up the ball on his ten metre line and put in a raking kick back up the tram lines into the Pulborough 22. With Tom West following up the #15 was halted in his tracks and from the ensuing maul Connor Hand sent out a sizzling lateral cut out pass to the fast approaching Gary Stevens who ghosted through the centre pairing to score to the left of the posts, and with the kick once more pulled wide the whistle went for half time with the score, 10-5.
The second half was much of the same ,with Crowborough ignoring the wide open spaces behind the Pulborough back line to gain territory, and Pulborough hogging the lion’s share of possession, ploughing into a resolute defensive Crowborough line, which was intent on forcing the injudicious off-load and turnover of possession. One robust tackle saw Connor Hand spend the next ten minutes in contemplation.
Living off scraps Crowborough continued to keep Pulborough in the centre of the field, and were fortunate to avoid a couple of penalties from the boot of their prodigious kicker, who before kick-off had demonstrated the ability to clear the bar from the half-way line with ease.
Crowborough were becoming familiar with this miserly amount of possession, and with the final quarter approaching latched onto a fumbled Pulborough pass and moved up-field. Into the 22, Tom West looped a perfectly weighted pass to Lloyd Smith out on the left wing with the line begging, only for the referee to indicate the pass had gone forward.
From the scrum, Pulborough tried to run it out of defence and paid the price as the defence came up quickly. As the pack arrived the shove came on and drove the visitors over the line ,only for the ball to be held up denying the home side a decisive score.
With time running out Crowborough had a simple chance to extend the lead to two scores and take Pulborough out of losing bonus point territory, only for a rush of blood that saw a quick tap penalty come to naught. Fortunately shortly afterwards another penalty was awarded which Connor Hand kicked to bring the match to and end at 13-5.
The outcome of the match was always uncertain even into the last five minutes, and for the impartial spectators it was a thoroughly entertaining encounter, less so for the more partisan on the touchline.
Crowborough 2nd XV took on Lewes 2nd XV at Steel Cross, running out 43-21 victors.
Crowborough have several areas of play to address this week in training before welcoming 4th placed Vigo ( on Saturday 12th Jan ) a side that have put in several impressive performances of late and one that will also be looking to reverse their 36-14 defeat last September.