Hellingly again went into battle with East Grinstead this week. After securing the league title the last time these two met Hellingly travelled now looking to secure the first of four possible wins to secure the one hundred percent record. With players out this week the depth of the squad was tested and it passed with flying colours and gave opportunity for players to make their debuts. Dan Kilbey came in as replacement prop and Zack Sutherland on the wing. Hellingly also saw position changes to with flanker Connor 'The Machine' Stratford stepping into the front row to play hooker. Stratford showed steel and determination that his team mates know all too well and never showed signs of giving up against the strong G's pack.
Grinstead had a clear game plan of maintaining a quick tempo and physical defence in an aim to unsettle the visiting Loonies. The first ten minutes put Hellingly on the back foot with quick and aggressive rucking from the G’s making Hellingly concede their first penalty of the half. The G’s kicker stepped up and put the first three on the board. The G’s continued this pattern of play forcing penalties but the kicker could not find the posts to add to their total. Hellingly started to settle into the game and the usual rapid defence started to show and enabled Hellingly to impose their will on the game. Hellingly started gaining the yards with swift play through the backs and good support from the forwards. Phase after phase the G’s defence was being pulled and eventually led to rash decisions giving Hellingly a penalty in front of the posts. The intentions were clear though from Hellingly. There was to be no kicking for goal. A quick tap and go saw the ball moved rapidly out wide to Thomas Stone who showed great strength and speed finishing well in tight space and into the corner.
In the second half both teams showed great desire and a titanic battle ensued in the middle of the field with explosive tackle after explosive tackle, scrum after scrum. The Loonies pack showed great composure all game with their new lineout and prevented the G's gaining the yards they wished for. The penalty count slowed but did continue which resulted with two players being binned on two occasions meaning this win had even more prominence as Hellingly played for 60 minutes of the game with fourteen. These sin bins were some what controversial especially when prop Jon Tutty was penalised for clearing the ruck with a shoulder and no wrapping of the arms. After discussions with Coaches at the end of the game it was clear that it was a ferocious hit and at worst should of just been a penalty for being off his feet after the tackle due to no one being there for his outstretched arms to wrap around. Debutant Zack Sutherland though saw an opportunity and began to impose himself on the game with strong tackling and good running with ball in hand. Sutherland changed the game when he took his opportunity and intercepted the ball from the G’s scrum half’s pass and showed frightening pace to step two and tear down the wing and under the posts for the try. The G’s backs themselves are known for their pace but this was a level of speed even they could not lay a hand on missing every tackle by some distance.
After this Hellingly took control with their strong set piece setting up maul after maul. The telling play came off the top of the lineout and the Hellingly pack began to roll the maul gaining thirty meters dep into the G’s half. This caused panic in the G's defence and not even the arms in from the side and attempts at collapsing the maul could not stop this juggernaut. From here Captain James Grey showed great composure, waiting for his opportunity took the ball off the back of the maul and made run toward the line stepping his defender and diving in between two to score the third for Hellingly. The Hellingly tails were now up and they smelled blood. They continued there constant pressure and kept forcing the G's back toward their own line. Penalties and mistakes saw the packs called upon to scrum right up until the end of the game when a penalty conceded by the G's saw the game come to an end.
DOR Dave Sands commented after the game, "It's happening!! Its really happening. Every week we are getting a step closer to the 100% mark and the happiness eruption we have talked about before Jon. Next we face Uckfield away and they are on a good run of form themselves. I expect a quick, physical game and a battle like that seen on the fields of mordor. The question is who will be our Frodo, this is something I look forward to finding out!!"
Captain James Grey Commented, "What a game this was. I took us a little time to get going but when we did we were fantastic. We commanded our territory like a pack of lions and with tackling as ferocious as wild female bears protecting their cubs. I use the wildlife analogies as I am a great admirer of the animal kingdom and see my team as my army of beautiful creatures and it is my job like the great David Attenborough to discover each players hidden talents and secrets and develop them to help the team grow. I would liken our overall play at this minute to an army of ants in the way that we work in perfect unison, with great organisation and superb efficiency. I am now looking forward to the Uckfield game and seeing what new characteristics this team can display."
M.O.M: Zack Sutherland
Try Scorers: Stone, Sutherland & Grey
Conversions: Searle (1)