GRINSTEAD BEAT DITCHLING IN SPECTACULAR FASHION
8 TRIES RUN IN ON FIRST LEAGUE RUN OUT!
EGRFC 1STS: 50
The first game of the new league season saw the two promoted sides pitted against each other. With Ditchling's ground not yet ready after being relaid the game was switched to Saint Hill. The two games last year were tight, scrappy affairs which EG won by 10 points or so. We knew that this game would be no different for the first period and that we would need to match their physicality before allowing our fitness and skill level show in the later part of the game.
Unusually this was exactly how the game panned out. A tight first half punctuated by far too many penalties and unforced errors saw a fairly even contest with us managing to create two good opportunities to score. Firstly, a strong catch and drive from a line out saw Mark Oliver emerge with the ball for the first points of the day. Later in the half a chip over the top from new scrum half Ben Clarke was expertly chased by Scott Anderson, who beat the defence for the touchdown. Steven Cooke converted the second try. We were disappointed with our discipline in the first half and persistent offending lead to a yellow card for Dan Arnold late in the half as he took the bullet for the team. 12-0 at half time was about right for the balance of the first half. At half time we talked about improving the discipline and working with the referee better to lower the penalty count, use the space in the outside channels and run them off the park with fitness and skill. We knew they would come strong for a period and if we could ride that then the opportunities would be there for scores.
An initial burst from Ditchling was soon repelled and we were into a period of some excellent rugby with the forwards securing excellent quick ball and the backs utilising it in superb fashion. The second half saw us score six excellent tries. The first came after 45 minutes with brilliant inter play between Ben Swadling, Anderson and Barnaby Carter, with Carter dummying the full back to go over under the posts. Cooke converted. Straight from the kick off Ryland Thomas made a break and was supported well by Carter and Swadling who worked the ball wide to Jordan Tucker who beat his man on the outside and showed great pace to score in the corner. Cooke struck an excellent kick to convert. Soon after another strong break from the backline caused chaos in the Ditchling defence. Great work from Clarke put Arnold into space for the run in. Cooke missed the conversion. Clarke was now bossing the game at nine with excellent passing, strong defence and piercing breaks. Another flowing move with great handling saw the ball go through several pairs of hands before Clarke beat two defenders to touch down for his debut score. Cooke Converted. Ditchling came back at EG with a score of their own but this only roused EG to strike back with two brilliant tries. Firstly a set piece move straight off the training ground saw James Mitchell over for his first of the season. Then with time running out great offloading and continuity from forwards and backs saw the ball kept alive and Clarke finished off for his second of the day. Cooke converted the final try.
Overall, a great performance and start to the season. Excellent performances from Clarke, Anderson and Swadling in the backline and Ruari Andrews, Arnold and Thomas in the pack to name but a few who contributed to a tremendous team performance and result. Head Coach Rhodri Lewis said, "The response from the players to a disappointing pre season game last week has been excellent. To put in that kind of performance against a side like Ditchling, who we know can cause teams lots of problems, was fantastic. We matched and surpassed their intensity and physicality and then blew them away with quality in the second half. We scored some brilliant team tries today and it was great to see us use the ball so well. Players like Clarke and Anderson were outstanding but the team effort and performance was exceptional. We still have plenty of room for improvement, our discipline and penalty count was way too high, but that is the great thing about this team, there is still so much more to come from them. We know next week we will face a different challenge from Burgess Hill who are seasoned at this level and we will have to prepare properly for that."
Next week we host Burgess Hill in the 1sts and 2nds in another home double header. We would love to have your support once more.