One of our best performance's of the season........
By Ian Geering
See's the Crow's come away from Old Dunstonians, just needing, one more 5 point win, to take the LSE3 League Title !
Match Report - by Rick Howe.
To paraphrase, a week is a long time in rugby. Only seven days ago ‘Boro contested a closely fought game on a freezing Sussex hillside, blasted by gale force winds, driving rain and mired in squelchy Wealden mud. Fast forward seven days to balmy South London, on a tract that would do justice to a cricket outfield and was to provide a feast of creative rugby for the Faithful to follow.
Crowborough fielded several changes in the forwards, welcoming back Callum Main to the back row, releasing Alex Purnell to the #2 position, and moving Andy Orchard to the starting line up to replace the injured Nick Hill. The only change to the back division was the return of young Angus Weir to the left wing.
Although eventually there was to be clear daylight between the sides, the game was a much closer run affair than the score-line suggests, much to the delight of the two sets of supporters who appreciated the quality rugby demonstrated by both sides.
The Crowborough pack have had several “very good” performances in recent weeks and have threatened to translate that into “excellence”. On Saturday they delivered. And how!
The unsung heroes of the front row set a solid base for the powerhouse of Andy Orchard and Harry Slatter who harried in the loose and soared in the line out, leaving the formidable trio of Callum Main, Matt Botterman and Josh Groocock to attack with aggression and malice, whilst defending with ground shaking ferocity.
From the whistle ‘Boro burst into attack with Matt Botterman leading from the front, where he would be all afternoon. The pack moved as an eight with hardly a gap between them and with less than five minutes played, Andy Orchard broke through into the 22, and fed the fast approaching Josh Groocock whose long levers powered him to within 2 metres of the line and with the ball held in his left hand stretched the remaining distance to place the ball on the line. Connor Hand then converted 0-7.
While still congratulating themselves on a great opener, the exceptional Old Dunstonian back division were about to level the score. From 9 to 15 they exuded an understanding that can only come from quality players regularly playing for each other and training together. The #14 looked sharp and menacing even when standing still----- which he didn’t do very often as ‘Boro were soon to find out.
The OD pack were to live on scraps most of the afternoon, but scraps was all that the #9 needed to release his backs. Slinging out a quick pass the #10 slipped inside before putting in a kick to the right wing. As the ball bounced close to Lloyd Smith it took a wicked turn into the mercurial #14 welcoming hands, making the score under the posts as much a formality as the conversion. 7-7
Soon after ‘Boro had an opportunity to go further ahead with a simple penalty, but a quick tap was the preferred route which resulted in a ‘Boro scrum when OD’s knocked on. From 15 metres out Tom West broke to the right and confronted by a wall of defenders was grateful to see a fast arriving Josh Groocock who took the off-load whilst diving for, and over the line, for his second try, converted again by Connor Hand. 7-14.
Crowborough maintained the pressure to try and get some space between the sides, and once more using the pack, they drove to within 10 metres of the OD line before being awarded a scrum. With the pressure on and the OD back row forced to stay down as the pack creaked, Matt Botterman picked up at the back to round the edge of the scrum and take the #15 over the line with him for the third converted try. 7-21.
OD’s still were sanguine and built another attack, once more using the #14 right wing who pulled the ‘Boro defence wide before off-loading to his outside centre who stepped off his right foot targeting the inside shoulders of two ‘Boro defenders arriving too quickly to prevent the side step and the inevitable score under the posts. 14-21
With OD’s within a score and 7 points once more they started to pile on the pressure with high kicks to the left wing guarded by young Angus Weir, who to his credit fielded kick after kick in spite of knowing he was in for a severe clattering every time, eventually spilling claret for the cause.
The OD pack got into the act next, when a suspected double movement by the second row led to a minor debate but was allowed to stand. The kick was missed but once more brought the two sides within 3 points. 19-21
With twenty minutes to go OD’s must have been a tad dismayed when the excellent pair of Mark Rosier and Andy Orchard, were replaced by the massive dual presence of Tom Kent in the front row and Will Creasey in the second row.
Within moments, two attempted tries by Harry Slatter and Will Creasey were judged to have been held up, before a well worked push over try by Matt Botterman eventually succeeded to secure the bonus point. The kick was successful. 19-28 .
Alex Purnell was next on the score sheet, when Bertie Boast and Adam King exploited the right tramlines but were held up short of the try line, and despite Will Creasey and Matt Bottermans repulsed efforts, Alex Purnell swept in to pick up and record the score which went unconverted. 19-33.
Just when it looked all done an dusted, OD’s came back once again through there talisman #14 , whose mazy running style and side steps were managed without any perceptible alteration to pace. The kick was missed. 24-33
The biggest cheer of the afternoon went to Angus Weir, who had crabbed across from his left wing to appear in the outside centre position on the right taking a pass from Gary Stevens on the OD 10 metre line. With Bertie Boast on his outside and the cover arriving he dummied to Bertie Boast and ghosted through the first gap before trying the move a second time, with a similar result. Approaching the line he was grabbed by the third defender but spiralled out of the attempted tackle to wriggle over and score out wide, which Connor Hand slotted from the touch line to take the full time score to 24-40.
After such an entertaining match with so many excellent individual performances it seems almost churlish to single out one individual as Man of the Match, but by an overall majority of his peers, colleagues and coaches the award this week went to Josh Groocock.
By virtue of this bonus point win and Vigo’s astonishing defeat by Bromley, ‘Boro go 16 points clear at the top of the division. In another note worthy result Hastings and Bexhill recorded the long overdue victory that they have been threatening for much of the season with a 15-5 defeat of Pulborough taking them off the bottom of the table, although Lewes and Park House have a game in hand.
Crowborough now have a three week enforced break which will be a challenge for players and coaches alike to maintain the momentum and match fitness, before once more resuming hostilities against one of side to whom they have lost this season, Beccahamians away on the 9th March.