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1st XV - Match centre

Sat 29 Sep 15:00 - London & SE Division - London 3 South East Full time

Pulborough 29 - Beccehamian 24

Pulborough win away from home in LSE3

1. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill.

2. “I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So, tell me what you want, what you really really want. I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig, ah.” – The Spice Girls
The relevance of the above two quotes shall become apparent later on in this dissertation. They are in no way a popularity gimmick to intrigue the reader into a needless divergence of click bait, they are relevant and powerful statements by two of Britain’s most iconic dynasty’s. Indeed had Pulborough wanted to “zigazag ah” a little earlier on then the presence of our most dear Mr Churchill wouldn’t have quite so much relevance, but that’s perhaps the most poetic part of last Saturday. However, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so please do make yourself comfortable.

The weather was gorgeous, in fact I would go so far as to proclaim it to have been a perfect early autumn day for god’s good game. A mix of bright sunshine and a pale whisper of a breeze lightly touching all that sailed in her. West Wickham isn’t perhaps the most salubrious of places, it’s lacking some decent coffee shops, and maybe the odd Farrow and Ball painted bistro pub, but it’s pleasing enough and was certainly given a good deal of spit and polish by the weather. It’s rugby team are a solid bunch, well middled in the forwards and they know how to move the ball around when required, however I wouldn’t say they possessed anything really scary. A bit like when you first arrive in the outlying regions of Birmingham, it looks like it could be a bit uncomfortable but it’s certainly no Liverpool; indeed after the first couple of grimaces, you normally become accustomed to it and just get on with it...but ain’t that just Kent all over...

Anyway, Beccehamians were coming into the game with a mix bag of results, similar to that of Pulborough, so there was the usual much anticipated first blood ritual to embark upon, queue the coach’s rabble rousing proclamation to see who had the measure of who. Unfortunately like a couple of blind tailors desperately grouping the mannequin long after the paying customer had left the shop, both sides seemed to be fumbling about with their tape measures trying to extract proportions for far too long.

Pulborough started the cycle off, after absorbing some early pressure from the Beccehamians runners they started break out - Luke Kilford started the game like he finished it, powerful yet graceful, weaving in and out of tackles to push the West Sussexers up into the Beccehamian twenty two. After a few transgressions on either side the referee decided the home side to have been the naughtiest and the swarthy swash buckled Oliphant - Hope pinged over the first three points of the afternoon.

The packs then traded the customary blows to see who wanted it more, however, a bit like an ugly girl at male only gay bar; there was lots of puzzled looking, perhaps even the occasional lazy flirt to pass the time, but nobody really seemed to be excessively interested in one another. This is not to say the Pulborough pack weren’t getting a good amount of work done, the second rows of Baldwin and Herron supplied plenty of bulk around the fringes, hooker Leeding was as busy as ever and the back row was covering a lot of ground from side to side, probing into the Beccehamian soft bits like an inexperienced teenage boy on a Saturday night. Luckily, before the spectators settled in for a mid-afternoon doze the score was jolted by drop kick from the home side’s fly half, it was basic and not great to watch but it did the job.

Halfway through the opening period, Beccehamians moved ahead with a powerful finish from their front rower, the conversion was accurately missed and Borough found themselves chasing the game. As the half wore to close the black and whites started to gain the upper hand, the scrum that had started well was now at best, slightly in the Beccehamian favour but the backs had finally strung a few passes together and the back five forwards were starting to make their superior athleticism count, Harry Short and Joe Serna picking holes and forcing them in equal measure. The pressure mounted and the swans threw their kitchen sinks at the job, substitute hooker Denman and second row heartthrob Baldwin both went over only to be adjudged to have been held up, when would this climax come, alas, the away fan frustration nearly became complete as the Beccehamian’s centre sprinted through with an interception but was just caught by the milky bar kid version of Jason Robinson - the utterly gorgeous if a little silly Brad Game (delicious). His mildly high tackle was adjudged to have been too naughty to go unpunished and the Beccehamian 10 clipped over another 3 points. 11 - 3.

Unperturbed by the setback Pulborough went again and again, often forcing what should have simply slid in nicely, but finally, within seconds of the first half whistle, success, converted winger Sam Beesley thundered through a would be tackle and over the line; Elephant child getting a difficult conversion out wide. 11 - 10 at half time.

There was much encouragement from the Pulborough coaching staff at halftime, it was no vintage performance but they had forced their way back in. The Swans still didn’t look like they knew what they wanted to achieve but they were starting to get to where they wanted to be going. Alas this confusing narrative meant they lost concentration at the start of the second half and Beccehamians quickly scored a try, 18 - 10; they then followed up by yet more Pulborough transgressions at the breakdown, a penalty going over to make it 21 - 10, the game was slipping away for the away team.

Then something happened that no one expected, a bit like in Lord of the Rings, when the Ents of Fangorn Forest awoke in the nick of time to mount their assault of Isengard, so too did the men from Pulborough. Luke Kilford, the continual thorn in the soft underbelly of many a Kentish player that day, continued to allude tackles and cause a nuisance of himself as did the young scrum half Keating, his wiry disposition probing the Beccehamian defensive line for weaknesses. Out wide of him Lee, Elephant - Hopper and Brad Dreamboat were finally getting their well-muscled physiques into the game in unison, like an Abercrombie and Fitch photo shoot from circa 2010, this was really looking good.

As the second half began to drift away Sam Beesley went over for his second, it was a well taken effort and it put Borough right back in the match. Then within three minutes of that another from Henry Lee and Frazier the Hopeful Heffalump popped over the extras. Borough were up 22-21 with less than fifteen minutes to play, the chaps were beginning to look as comfortable as a Charlie Williams edged sofa range, cushions included.

This should have been the start of summation, but it says a lot about the opposition that that kept coming back and another penalty edged them into the lead once more, but by this time you sensed only one team truly believed they’d win it. After consistent pressure by the pack, namely the excellent back row of Leddra, Short and Serna the Pulborough 1st XV were on the Beccehamian five metre line, the home side with the throw. The ball rose, but so did blindside flanker Leddra, with a baby bear style cuff he flicked it back and Daddy bear Harry Short pounced on it, from there the ball found itself to the playful elephant at centre and he darted through even more tackles than usual to spot the ball down and convert his own score, 29 - 24.

Despite constant Beccehamian pressure to try and get a last minute result, the defence held firm and after regaining the ball the pack excellently managed multiple phases of play to run the clock down and record the win; and so the game finished 29 - 24, in the end a good victory, and a hard fought one. However, one can’t but help think that had the visitors applied the sort of patience and protracted game management in the final twenty earlier on in the game it would have been over quicker than a Moldovan Touring 3rd XV first test against the All Blacks. When they play to the plan, and trust in the system they look slick, well drilled and specific, but I’ll take a muddled win over a brave defeat any day.

Thus as the reading ends so my Churchillian analogy becomes relevant; Pulborough knew that failure wasn’t permanent, that their courage and persistence would ultimately pay off, albeit after a laboured and somewhat forced path against a very resistant Beccehamian side. It would seem that much like in weeks gone by they didn’t really know what they wanted as a collective, until of course it really mattered later on into the game, but it turns out that what they really wanted was a “zigazig ah” - Whatever T F that is.

Written and submitted by Hugo Baldwin

Quilter Kids First Champions winner – November: Hinckley RFC

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Crowborough 11 46
2. Beccehamian 11 39
3. Vigo 11 36
4. Pulborough 11 36
5. Old Williamsonians 11 35
6. Old Dunstonians 11 35
7. Lewes 11 28

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