A gallant effort from our near neighbours proved a bridge too far.
The game started brightly with both teams competing strongly for every ball. But after ten minutes Perry Sanson
, Southend’s scrum half, saw an opening that he dashed through and grounded the ball for the first try of the evening. Converting his own try he moved the score to 7 - 0.
Southend looked like scoring a second shortly after but a languid pass was intercepted by Rochford centre Nathan Barham who ran the length of the field to score under the posts. The successful conversion levelled it up at 7 points each.
Southend continued to put the pressure on playing mostly in Rochford’s half. Their anxiety to compete led to a series of penalties from offside’s, holding on and failing to roll away. Southend elected to kick for the touchline rather than take the points confident their superior pack held the advantage. Following a series of scrums, rucks and mauls, flanker Pat Reed grounded the ball for a pushover try. Sanson converted, 14 - 7.
Eventually a yellow card was shown to one of the Rochford props who again failed to roll away and Southend dished up more of the same. This time it was number eight Sean Vines turn for the push over. Up stepped Sanson for the conversion, 21 - 7.
The second half saw Southend change the pace, releasing the ball to their backs at every opportunity. With Rochford firmly on the back foot it was not long before they were rewarded. First in was Luke Irvin who took full advantage of a last ditch tackle. Following up he snatched a ball popped up to him and went over for fourth try. The conversion improved the score to 28 - 7.
The next three try’s all fell to the Southend centres running them in from distance. Nick Flexman got on the score sheet with a great run. Out distancing the Rochford cover he touched down between the uprights and Sanson converted, 35 - 7.
Then it was the turn of Sonny Gay
. His strong running and strength were too much for a tiring Rochford and he obliged the large crowd by scoring both final try’s. Neither were converted leaving the final score at 45 - 7.
Both teams were roundly applauded by the crowd, Rochford going home with their heads held high and Southend looking forward to next weeks final against Westcliff.