Borough Bag all 5 Points in injury time win....
By Ian Geering
And this was after being behind at the break.
Match Report by by Rick Howe.
The Referee today was Mr Paul Shepperd
Crowborough travelled down to the coast last weekend after a two week lay-off, anxious to remedy the one point loss in their last outing against Vigo, and get back to winning ways.
Perhaps it was that very anxiousness, or the fierce biting wind that was to have a dampening effect on the first half of this game, but that would be to ignore the dogged determination of the home side, battling to get off the bottom of the table.
Whatever the reason, Crowborough started in their customary manner, with Connor Hand making a couple of Larkhamesque breaks, but was hauled to the ground before he could off-load. The ‘Boro pack were firing on all cylinders, securing quick ball for the backs, but a series of unsympathetic bullet like passes and dropped catches, stemmed the initial momentum and soon the pack turned to route one, with driving mauls up the centre of the field.
Moving into the second quarter of the match, ‘Boro cruised into the Hastings 22, and pilling on the pressure, drove the defenders over their line only for the ball to be held up. From the ensuing scrum the ‘Boro eight, controlled the shove, and keeping the Hastings back row honest, allowed Matt Botterman to pick up and cross the line for the first score of the afternoon. In these windy conditions the kick was missed. 0-5.
At this point Boro’ were on top and well in control, as it was over 30 minutes before Hastings entered the boro’ 22.
Hastings then had a 50 metre penalty attempt which although wind assisted was pulled marginally wide. With ‘Boro pinned in their own 22, and with the wind making any kicked clearance practically impossible, they gamely drove the ball down field with pick and drives and off-loads. Inevitably the ball was spilled and punted back innocuously once more into the ‘Boro 22.
In what was to be a series of mad moments, Harry Marchesi’s well taken high ball, was followed in quick succession by an unnecessary support call, a fortuitous punt through over the ‘Boro line, a risky pick up rather than simple touch down, finishing with a bundle into touch, and Hastings just five metres from the line without even handling the ball.
From the lineout Hastings set up the maul and with the defence short on the left side the prop span off the edge and went over the line for an unconverted try after 35 minutes. 5-5
With the half coming to an end a final penalty to Hastings was slotted by the impressive Hastings #10 to take the half time score to 8-5. HT
With the wind turning to gale force and in favour of the visitors, Connor Hand needed no second invitation to use it to gain ground. With ‘Boro winning their own lineouts and dominating the scrums Hastings had little option but to risk the ire of the official by either collapsing the mauls or hanging on the offside line to prevent quick delivery.
With ten minutes of the half gone and with ‘Boro once more in the Hastings 22 , Hastings again transgressed, and ‘Boro opted for the scrum. As the shove came on Man of the Match, Matt Botterman picked at the back of the scrum to blast through the 9/10 channel and under the posts for a Connor Hand converted try. 8-12
With Hastings seemingly unable to legally contain the ‘Boro pack, it was inevitable that someone would catch the officials eye and after a blatant off-side the #6 was duly despatched for ten minutes, punished by yet another forwards try scored by Josh Groocock and converted by Connor Hand 8-19.
Although ahead, Crowborough were still unable to put together any meaningful flowing moves, until Bertie Boast, showing signs of what he is potentially capable of, picked up a loose ball and slung out an exquisite flat pass to Harry Marchesi who came bursting into the line. Drawing his man he popped a well weighted lob to debutant Angus Weir, whose electric pace and mazy running style took him to within four metres of the line. Showing great maturity, rather than trying to blast through the cover he held up the pass just long enough for Harry Marchesi to arrive, but as he went over the official indicated a forward pass to deny the bonus point try.
From the scrum, ‘Boro once more gained possession, but as Matt Botterman scrambled over the line he was incredibly robbed of the ball, and it seemed that time was running out on ‘Boro securing the bonus point try.
However it was to be yet another penalty awarded to ‘Boro on the five metre line that allowed Connor Hand to score out wide in the dying seconds to take the win and bonus point with a 11-24 scoreline.
That Crowborough were deserved winners was not in dispute, indeed they could have had two or three more scores to outline their dominance, however they are “still a work in progress” with decision making and support high on the list.
However the biggest mystery of the game was why are Hastings and Bexhill propping up the League? They are an impressive outfit with several talented players, quick backs and robust defence and deserve to continue to grace the London Leagues.