Holbrook emerged eventual winners in a very closely fought contest away at Shoreham II. With Shoreham’s first team recently withdrawn from league competition, Holbrook were expecting a real challenge to their run of ten unbeaten league appearances when they faced Shoreham II and that was certainly the case.
A very heavy Shoreham pack put immediate pressure on Holbrook who defended well but conceded a penalty in front of their posts. Maybe sensing just how tight the game would be, Shoreham kicked for the points and took the lead 3 – 0. A very committed performance followed from both teams across all aspects of the game. Shoreham had the stronger scrum, Holbrook had the advantage in the line out and the edge in backs with Shoreham having more bulk in their forwards.
Following several phases of determined forwards play, Holbrook were in possession close to the Shoreham line, creating the opportunity for scrum-half Joel Murray to pick up from the back of ruck and dive for the line and score. Holbrook missed the conversion but took the lead 3 – 5.
Towards the end of the first half the Holbrook defence was put under real pressure with a Shoreham scrum just outside the Holbrook 5m line. In a desperate defensive play, Murray the Holbrook scrum half received a yellow card for killing the ball. Shoreham opted for another scrum rather than the penalty and looked likely to score a push over try, but then to the dismay of their front row the ball was passed out to their back line. The Holbrook defence held for several more phases but another 5m scrum followed to allow Shoreham to score and take the lead 8 - 5 at half time.
Playing with only 14 players for the first six minutes of the second half the Holbrook defence had to work even harder. But a penalty kick from Shoreham allowed them to stretch their lead to 11 - 5. Holbrook determined to maintain their unbeaten run and support their promotion hopes, ran several phase of attacking rugby and this time it was Shoreham’s turn for a yellow card with their second row spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Holbrook continued the pressure and were rewarded with a try through Chris Blake playing at fly-half. With the conversion added Holbrook took the lead 11 – 12. The match continued to be a closely fought contest and it appeared that with just minutes to go the solid Holbrook defence would ensure victory for the visitors. But in a reckless moment Holbrook’s Rob Boylett received a yellow card and conceded a penalty on the Holbrook 22m line directly in front of the posts. Collectively Holbrook held their breath as the Shoreham kicker stepped forward and skilfully struck the ball only to see it miss the left post by less than an inch. Holbrook breathed again, the ref blew the final whistle and Holbrook cheered as winners. Final score Shoreham II 11 – Holbrook 12.
Holbrook’s Head Coach Seamus Higgins commented afterwards, “I was very impressed with the performance of everyone today against a very strong Shoreham II. The wall of yellow when we are defending is a lovely sight to see”.
Despite the three yellow cards and brutal physicality of the match, the game was played in the true sportsman like spirit of rugby union providing huge enjoyment to both players and spectators, with Shoreham being gracious post match hosts.
Holbrook next play Pulborough III on 28th January at home.