Bromley leave it late to secure vital bonus point win
Bromley left it perilously late to secure a vital win in their battle to avoid relegation and in so doing, consigned Crowborough to that fate by the tightest of margins. Crowborough had nothing to lose and whilst a win for them seemed unlikely at half time, they rallied well in the second half and very nearly won the day.
Playing up the slope, Bromley started confidently and an early Steve Pillow penalty and a try for captain Aidan Devane from a rolling maul put them 8-0 up. Despite their good start, Bromley lost their shape a bit as Crowborough played a pick and drive game which forced errors from the home defence. This allowed the Crowborough fly half Chris Yates to convert two penalty chances to make the score 8-6 after 20 minutes. Crowborough spent the next 10 minutes camped in the Bromley 22 but they couldn’t break down a determined defence. Bromley slowly managed to work their way upfield and when they were awarded a penalty about 7m from the Crowborough line, they opted for a scrum. However, Crowborough disrupted the scrum and Bromley ended up losing ground. The end of the first half was more of the same scrappy play, as both sides coughed up possession all too easily. It was from such a turnover that Nathan Reddick burst into the Crowborough 22 to score a try under the posts and Steve Pillow had the last kick of the half to make it 15-6.
Crowborough showed their intent right from the beginning of the second half and when Bromley failed to exit from their 22, they were punished as Chris Yates stepped over for a try to close the gap. Bromley were soon back on the offensive and whilst there were surging breaks by David Banfield and Steve Pillow moments later, collectively they weren’t doing enough to protect the ball and chances were being wasted. Thus, it was Crowborough who scored next as a good move combined with some indifferent Bromley tackling allowed No 8 Matt Botterman in for a try, converted by Chris Yates. Bromley restored their lead following a torrid passage of play close to the Crowborough line, as both sides and at times, the referee, struggled to keep control of the proceedings. First Tom Standfield and then David Banfield crossed the line from tapped penalties only to be called back by the referee. Bromley scored at the third time of asking as Tom Standfield picked up from the base of a scrum and the ball was transferred neatly by Harry Bowditch to Callum Hughton who scored in the corner to make it 20-18.
Much to the angst of both sets of supporters, this game was far from over. Crowborough had a chance to kick at goal but opted for a kick to the corner, which paid off as Matt Botterman crashed over for a try from the line out. Chris Yates kicked another good conversion to make it 20-25. Bromley now had to dig deep and when they stole the ball from a Crowborough line out, David Banfield drove on and Harry Bowditch was on hand to score the try which levelled the scores. It all rested on Steve Pillow’s conversion which agonisingly crashed against the post but then dropped just the right side of the crossbar to make it 27-25.
With the game now in injury time, Crowborough had a chance to steal it but the penalty kick from Chris Yates just drifted wide. In a last throw of the dice, Crowborough piled forward from deep and forced penalties from the home side as they made their way into the Bromley half. When they finally spilled the ball, Tom Standfield was on hand to secure it for Bromley and Harry Bowditch gratefully booted the ball into touch to end the game.
So, a dramatic finale to a tense and absorbing game. The result, combined with others elsewhere means that the second team to be relegated will be one of Bromley, Old Alleynians, Deal and Betteshanger or Heathfield and Waldron. Bromley’s next game is away to Old Alleynians on 1st April, kick off is at 3pm.
George Scott, Tommy Scott, Steve Pillow, Sean Beckett, Callum Hughton, George Skinner, Harry Bowditch, Chris Bristow, David Banfield, Jake Moore, Aidan Devane, Jon Wright, Nathan Reddick, Matthew Hart, Michael Haissell.
Jonny Leverett, Tom Standfield, Tom Powell.