First Win for the Old Boys !!!!
By Ian Geering
A Great Afternoon of Entertainment at Steel Cross ........
Match Report - Stephen Palmer
Our Referee today - Mr Graeme Pratt
Photographer - Mr Drew Pratt
Crowborough RFC welcomed our old friends Mayfield College Old Boys to Steel Cross on Saturday for the third Annual Vets charity game between the two sides, with Crowborough taking a 2-0 series advantage in to the match. A turn in the weather and some excellent work by the Crowborough ground staff meant that playing conditions were perfect as ever and it promised to be a good day of running rugby for the supporting crowd.
Whilst the history of the match originated with a very much “us versus them” attitude the players have since been happy to turn out for either side and as such the teams this year had morphed more in to invitational XVs for both sides with the main focus of raising funds for our designated charity, Wooden Spoon. To show our support this year Mayfield donned the multi-coloured Wooden Spoon jerseys as opposed to their usual blue and white tops.
Prior to kick-off the decision was made with the referee, Graeme Pratt, to have uncontested scrums and split the game in to 4 quarters of 20 minutes to allow the players to catch their breath and get some much needed water on board at each break.
For the first 20 minutes both sides played at a frantic pace, going toe-to-toe in every department with some excellent attacking and defensive displays alike. Crowborough’s 9/10 combination of Ben Woods and Tim Jackson started to gel with some textbook Show-and-Go expansive rugby, which in turn provided a number of excellent chances for their buoyant back line to exploit. Likewise, their Mayfield counterparts of James O’Sullivan and Julian Daddy were growing in confidence with every minute that went by which, to their detriment, may have initially gone unnoticed by Crowborough.
The Mayfield Back Row of Ian Russell, Alexis Marchand and Alex Stevenson started strong and kept peppering the flanks and proved a handful all day, more often than not making it over the gain line. Crowborough’s Back Row of David Leslie, James Crouch and Steve McCabe gave as good as they got and when they weren’t tackling the onslaught they were themselves attacking the gaps. The Second Row partnership of Damian Hayes and Tim Davies were also proving solid as ever in the lineout and open play and the Front Row of David Griffiths, Phil Hart and Mark Rosier did the usual hard graft in all the rucks and mauls to provide a good platform for the pretty boys in the Crowborough back line.
Crowborough could have taken an early lead from a simple crash ball in the Mayfield 22 to inside centre Stephen Palmer but he was held up just short of the line by a solid cover tackle by Frenchman Seb Marchard, the opposition 12.
With no points scored in the first quarter Crowborough made a positive start to the second 20 and seemed on the up only for a pass in midfield to be intercepted by the Mayfield left wing, Doug Agyeman, who pounced on the opportunity and ran half the length of the pitch uncontested to touch down between the posts. Julian Daddy converted to take Mayfield 0-7 up.
Crowborough brushed themselves down, regrouped and began to build some good momentum and soon were on the score sheet themselves through their token Kiwi, Richard “Skippy” Whittaker, an excellent new recruit who acquitted himself extremely well in the 13 shirt in the absence of the influential Jim Ball. From another intercepted opposition pass Whittaker showed a great turn of pace to run in from 40 metres avoiding the cover tackles being thrown at him. John Elm’s conversion unfortunately didn’t quite have the accuracy so Mayfield remained 5-7 up.
The toing and froing continued and Mayfield almost increased their lead through James O’Sullivan who scored in the top right corner from some very strong forward and back link-up play only for the try to be disallowed for an earlier knock on. Crowborough’s captain, Matt Usher, went on a number of marauding runs deep in to the Mayfield half making some good ground for his team mates in support. Ian Adams and John Elms on the ‘Boro left and right wings kept them guessing with silky feet but their opposite numbers in Paul Byrne and Doug Agyeman didn’t allow them enough space on the outside to utilise their pace.
As Crowborough ramped up pressure on the Mayfield back line Richard Whittaker soon added another to his tally on the day scoring out wide with almost a carbon copy of his first try. The angle and distance made the kick more difficult than the first but John Elms came tantalisingly close but no cigar. For the first time in the match Crowborough took the lead 10-7 at half time and the Mayfield players and supporters may have felt this was the turning point they were half expecting.
The teams changed ends at half time with Mayfield now attacking towards the main road. Although only 3 points in it Crowborough felt confident that they could increase their lead if they continued from where they left off. This confidence was very quickly dented when a tap penalty by Mayfield’s James O’Sullivan in the ‘Boro 22 found Matt Mitchell coming through like a rocket to an unexpected Crowborough defence, easily side stepping any attempt to stop him running over the line and round the back to score near the posts. The conversion by Julian Daddy was good and Mayfield regained the lead 10-14.
Feeling a bit shell-shocked Crowborough began to force plays and the game became a bit more scrappy. Handling errors started to creep in and although this was partly due to the slightly damp ground and slippery ball, it probably had more to do with the lack of practice and tiredness of the players. As the match approached the last 20 minutes Crowborough were camped in their own 22 and couldn’t seem to clear their lines affectively in order to give them some much needed breathing space. Jody Freeman, Jean Christophe Mauriol, Nigel Pooley and Ben Boateng worked tirelessly and linked up well with their younger Mayfield Second Rows of Tommy Taylor and Alex Benson who made some good impact runs and came close to increasing the Mayfield margin if it weren’t for some last ditch tackling by ‘Boro to keep them in the game.
The last 20 minutes was set to make or break either side with the scoreline so close. However, it was Mayfield who took the initiative early on with some strong running by Alex Stevenson and his fellow forwards. Off the back of a ruck one of the Mayfield boys put in an old-fashioned grubber kick which bounced nicely in to the hands of Prop Ben Boateng who, with forward momentum and 10 metres to cover, broke two tackles before diving over the line. O’Sullivan’s conversion attempt fell short but Mayfield now led 10-19.
Due to the pre match agreement Mark Rosier, Phil Hart and David Griffiths were frustratingly unable to impose themselves in the set plays and will surely be asking for contested scrums next time the two teams meet.
The tide had very much turned and Mayfield’s confidence was now growing and soon their captain, John Abadom, joined the score sheet when the Wooden Spoon representative Matt Mitchell went on a mazy run and kicked the ball through with one man to beat. John reacted first and outpaced the opposition to give himself a simple touch down near the posts. Julian Daddy slotted the kick and Mayfield increased their lead to 10-26.
To cap off a torrid 20 minutes for “Boro it wasn’t long before big prop Jody Freeman ran through the Crowborough defence, as he had done most of the day, to finished off some good forward interplay and touch down near the posts. As expected Julian Daddy was successful with the kick and finished his day with 100% record of 4/4.
The final score ended 10-33 to Mayfield.
The match was refereed by Graeme Pratt who once again had an excellent game and kept control throughout.
Donation / Thanks
On behalf of Crowborough RFC and the Mayfield College Old Boys we are pleased to announce the event managed to raise £600 for the Wooden Spoon.
Thank you to all involved in what was a fantastic day, to the supporters who came along to watch and cheer us on, to Drew Pratt for some fantastic photos of the day, to all the Crowborough staff and to anyone and everyone I may have missed. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.
Mayfield College Old Boys / Wooden Spoon XV
1. Jody Freeman – Loosehead Prop
2. Jean Christophe Mauriol – Hooker
3. Nigel Pooley / Ben Boateng – Tighthead Prop
4. Tommy Taylor – Second Row
5. Alex Benson – Second Row
6. Ian Russell – Blindside Flanker
7. Alexis Marchand – Openside Flanker
8. Alex Stevenson – No 8
9. James O’Sullivan – Scrum Half
10. Julian Daddy – Fly Half
11. Doug Agyeman – Left Wing
12. Seb Marchard – Inside Centre
13. John Abadom (C) – Outside Centre
14. Paul Byrne – Right Wing
15. Matt Mitchell – Full Back
Crowborough “Vintage” XV
1. David Griffiths – Loosehead Prop
2. Phil Hart – Hooker
3. Mark Rosier – Tighthead Prop
4. Damian Hayes – Second Row
5. Tim Davies – Second Row
6. David Leslie – Blind Side Flanker
7. James Crouch – Openside Flanker
8. Steve McCabe – No 8
9. Ben Woods – Scrum Half
10. Tim Jackson – Fly Half
11. Ian Adams – Left Wing
12. Stephen Palmer / Martin Edgar – Inside Centre
13. Richard Whittaker – Outside Centre
14. John Elms – Right Wing
15. Matt Usher (C) – Full Back
Crowborough “Vintage” XV 10 – Mayfield College Old Boys XV 33
Tries: R Whittaker (2) D Agyeman (1)
M Mitchell (1)
B Boateng (1)
J Abadom (1)
J Freeman (1)
Conversions: J Daddy (4)
The Team are already looking forward to 2018 ????