Burgess Hill made the short trip up to Holbrook this Saturday looking to get revenge against one of the few teams to beat them this season. The team saw few changes from last week though the two that were made provided, perhaps, the biggest impact on the game and certainly made significant contributions. Firstly, Dan Harris, who played a big part in the teams success last season, was rewarded for his efforts when coming on last week as a substitute with a start at his favoured position of back row this week. Secondly, player coach, Owain Jenkins played his first game this season after a long lay off following a shoulder operation. Both players were in the thick of the action for the duration of the game and both performances will only boost Hill’s confidence in their remaining games as they push for promotion.
Receiving the kick off, the All Blacks were quick to show their intentions with a cleanly taken ball by Rezazadeh being off loaded to Parris who shot off up field on a dazzling forty metre run. With the ball shipped to Harris then East, both following up well in support, play was taken deep into the ‘Brook twenty two. Phillpot made useful yards with a clever pick and go before some good recycling edged the ball closer to the opposition line. With the ball at the back of the ruck and Hill looking to set their next phase of play, Holbrook gave a way a needless penalty, entering the ruck from the side to take out a player on the fringe. Eade stepped up for the difficult kick and slotted it from out wide, getting the scoreboard moving within the first two minutes.
Both teams settled into their grooves quickly, though Hill looked the stronger in putting several good phases together although too often ball was turned over and some huge clearance kicks by ‘Brook allowed them to clear their lines and focus their own attacks. Burgess Hill found themselves making the occasional booming clearance kick though one such fell into the arms of the opposition full back who put in a clever chip over the Hill defensive line before offloading to his captain who got the ball through some quick hands out wide allowing the winger an easy run in. The ball falling from the tee as the Holbrook scrum half stepped up for his conversion and abruptly putting an end to any chance of it going over could have been taken as an omen by either team as the opposition missed a further nine points with kicks in front of the posts.
Finding themselves in second place spurred the team on, Phillpot, Harris, Rez and Parris all gaining the valuable yards and making the necessary tackles though it was Eade’s sublime kick for touch that gained Hill the field position to mount their next push for the Holbrook line after the oppositions own attempt at finding touch only found the Hillian full back’s. Hill managed to turn over following the ensuing Holbrook line out through a great steal by Daniel frustrating the opposition enough to infringe at the ruck. Quick thinking saw Hill go for the tap penalty, setting up a series of pick and go’s before a final maul found not Daniel but Rezazadeh getting the try. The kick from out wide fell just short after a good attempt by Eade, but most importantly, Hill were back in the driving seat with the score at 5-8.
With a little of the first half to play, Hill were starting to understand the referee’s style of reffing the breakdown, though understanding it and acting on it proved to be very different with a penalty given away at a ruck in front of the posts. Thankfully, as eluded to earlier, it wasn’t to be the men in gold’s day as the relatively easy kick sailed wide.
As the teams changed ends following half time, Holbrook staged a similar attack into the All Blacks half to the one by Parris at the beginning of the game. This time though it was Holbrook’s skipper whose strong running took play up field. Good recycling was again the key with taken up to the Hill twenty two before Lane was penalised for an alledged spear tackle. This time (and only this time) the rugby gods looked down favourably on the Holbrook kicker with the three points neatly added and the scores tied.
Fortunatley, Hill were quick to put themselves back in the lead with another Eade penalty after good pressure on the restart forced ‘Brook to go off their feet at the ruck and seal the ball. Eade demonstrating how to make a successful kick in front of the posts.
With the scores so close, Holbrook looked to move things up a gear and some good play by their 8/9/10 kept Hill on their toes. Hill continued to find themselves struggling to come to terms with the breakdown refereeing. Penalties for not giving the scrum half sufficient time to get the ball away from the ruck and entering from an off middle position gave ‘Brook the chances to keep themselves in the game but both opportunities were wasted through poor kicks.
Hill however, did not let their scoring opportunities go a miss as Eade added another three points. This time it was Jenkins making one of his trade mark breaks deep into opposition territory. With the Holbrook fullback making a try saving tackle, players from both teams set up the ruck and this time it was ‘Brook causing the infringement. After making his earlier kick in front of the posts look easy, Eade elected to do the opposite with this one, bouncing the ball in off the upright.
The ruck area continued to prove a problem for both teams with the referee directing a lot of his attention to this area though Hill, infamous for their aggression in this area, found there competitiveness to be more of a problem. With another penalty and kicking obviously now not an option (despite the easy three being there), ‘Brook took the quick tap and managed to find their way over the line following some well recycled ball. The difficult kick, unsurprisingly, went wide though did ensure a nail biting finish for Burgess Hill with their one point lead and five minutes on the clock.
Hill’s kicked long from the restart and the kick back from Holbrook was equally long though found the safe hands of Jenkins. Keen to return the favour and start up the so often seen game of aerial ping pong, Jenkins returned the kick putting it in the opposite twenty two and between two ‘Brook players. With the opposition back row forward happy to admire the kick and watch it roll towards his try line, the job of securing the ball was left to his prop to chase the ball and secure it. Unfortunately, the kick had been well followed up by Eade who gracefully ran past the spectating back row forward, danced around the prop, collected the ball and dived over for the score.
The kick from almost the touch line fell just short leaving the score at 13-19 Burgess Hill.
Collecting the ball from the restart, Hill held on well and saw out the remaining minutes of the match, securing the victory.
Next week Burgess Hill take on Pulborough again looking to make amends for the defeat suffered earlier on in the season as well as keeping their promotion dreams alive.