Hill win epic arm wrestle of a Shield Final.
Burgess Hill and Newick contested the Sussex shield final last Sunday at Lewes RFC and after an arm wrestle of a contest Hill took the honours with a 25-16 win.
The Sussex All Blacks started the game nervously struggling to string phases together and poor handling and strong Newick defence resulted in a number of turnovers. Newick on the other hand were up for the occasion and their grizzled forwards and sleek backs took the game to Hill.
Hill were frustrating themselves in the early exchanges as every time they entered the Newick half they would give away a penalty and the Newick fly half would pin them back 50 metres with his mercurial boot.
The first score of the game went to Newick after their fly half kicked for the corner and Hill attempted to run it from their own line and were caught 15 metres out where they killed the ball. Up stepped the Newick fly half to slot the penalty 0-3.
Hill came straight back at Newick and made in roads with the back row of Captain Jon Phillpot, Christian Jones and Adam Rezazadeh. Following a foray into the Newick half, Newick came offside at the ruck and Hill were awarded a penalty. Fly half Dave Webb kicked for the corner. At the ensuing lineout Jones rose like a salmon plucking the ball in the middle of the lineout and a maul was set up. Hill began to inch their way to the Newick try line where scrum half Dave McComiskey touched down. Full back Owain Jenkins added the extras from wide out to take a 7-3 lead.
Newick responded well to this score and made in roads into the Hill half through their magician of a fly half and outside centre who glided across the pitch. At the break down Hill were adjudged to have come off their feet and a difference of opinion meant they were marched back another 10 metres. Up stepped the Newick 10 once again to kick the penalty 7-6.
The next score of the game came following immense pressure by the Hill defence at the kick off which saw hill inside centre Dan Harries charge down a Newick clearance kick. From the ensuing 22 kick off Hill gathered the ball and using forward runners went into the Newick 22. Newick infringed at the ruck and whilst playing the advantage scrum half Dave McComiskey fired the ball back to Webb who struck a perfectly executed drop goal 10-6.
The remainder of the half was an arm wrestle with both packs nullifying each other out as both teams struggled to take advantage.
The second half started very brightly for Newick as they took the lead early on following a flowing move down their back line their winger was given a one on one with Hill full back Jenkins. Jenkins went into the tackle and the Newick winger stepped into Jenkins already injured shoulder and past him for the score in the corner which was unconverted 10-11. Jenkins had to leave the field and on came veteran Lee Hubble into the centre and Dave Daly went to full back.
At this point Hill also brought on Adam Lane at prop for club Chairman Neil Upton.
Hill responded excellently to this score as their solid defence pressed the Newick line hard resulting in Harris intercepting the ball and running hard into the Newick half. From the ensuing ruck the ball was spun to the blind side where Webb passed to Daly who passed to left winger Owain Larrard who sprinted up the touch line before passing inside to second row Ian Paris who returned the favour before Larrard once again passed back to Paris who continued his recent scoring form sprinting 15 metres to score an unconverted try in the corner 15 – 11.
Newick were not perturbed by the score and the best score of the game followed shortly after the kick off.
From a scrum on the halfway line the Newick backs spun the ball wide and the ball was passed to the outside centre who cut through the Hill defence like a knife through butter before passing back inside to Newick’s outstanding player their fly half to dot down in the corner for the unconverted score 15-16.
At this point Karl Atkinson came on for McComiskey at scrum half.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Hill were picked up as their large travelling support began to chant their name and they started to claw away at territory using their pack to drive and crash the ball into the Newick half. Following a driving maul into the Newick 22, Newick infringed at the ruck and Daly stepped up to kick the penalty 18-16.
The last 10 minutes were about ball retention and Hill used their pack to drive towards the Newick line. Hill pounded the Newick line through their forwards and backs however resolute defence kept them out. Hill then set up a driving maul and were certain to score as they drove towards the line before the Newick centre came in and collapsed it. The referee was left with no option and awarded a penalty try which Daly converted 25-16.
From the kick off a strong tackle from Rezazadeh turned over the Newick ball and Daly kicked into touch signalling the end of the game and the crowd flooded the pitch to celebrate the win.
Special mention must go to Newick hooker Dave Hemsley who was outstanding at the breakdown turning over and disrupting Hill ball on many occasions.
Hill Captain Jon Phillpot was emotional afterwards and said “Today was the culmination of a long hard season” and openly thanked Hill’s “16th man” the large and vociferous Sussex All Black supporters.
Hill now return their attentions to the league where they are still in the hunt for a play off spot. This Saturday they entertain Rye at home kick off 3pm.