Firsts tough it out at Burgess Hill
Determination and will to win.
On Saturday we visited Burgess Hill who sat just beneath us in the league table knowing it would be another tough game but in optimistic mood following the positive performance last week. We started well in terms of keeping possession but it was Burgess Hill who scored first slotting a penalty after a couple of minutes. We struck back within a few minutes with a penalty of our own following some strong carries from Hulst and Andrews. Even early on the home team tried to make the game scrappy with very little effort made to roll away at the breakdown and plenty of off the ball niggles. We had lots of possession in the first half but were frustrated by the lack of quick ball due to players lying on it and the lack of positive decision making from the referee to improve the situation. When we did get quick ball we created several good opportunities with the ball moved wide well and should have scored at least twice in the first period. However, a combination of being too flat, poor final pass and some good cover defence meant we were left frustrated. It had been a good first half playing up the hill with good dominance at set piece and some good carries from Perry, Beanland and Bridges. At half time we talked about how to counter the lying on the ball to create quicker ball at the breakdown and keeping our depth better in the attacking line.
For the first twenty minutes of the second half this is exactly what we did. Great surges from the forwards with strong runs from Andrews, Oliver and Bridges took us deep into their half. Quick hands saw Montagu in space in the corner. A dive or slide would have seen him score but he chose to step and the cover defence managed to hold him up. From the resulting scrum a great line from Waite saw him cut through the defence and with the line beckoning surely he must score. However, again rather than a dive he stepped and was held up. Two missed opportunities and we were starting to wonder if the try was ever going to come. Another strong scrum set up a good platform for the backs to attack. A few more forward carries sucked some players in before the ball was moved wide for Carr to score out wide. Swadling kicked the conversion. We continued to dominate possession and territory and pressed hard for the next score. A strong line out catch and drive saw Arnold score the second of the day as he controlled the ball at the back of the maul. Swadling missed the conversion. This seemed to spark the home side into life and they then had their strongest period of the gain enjoying much of the possession and territory for the final twenty minutes. Good defence kept out a few attacks although we were a little guilty of a lack of aggression and urgency in the tackle until we got to our five metre line at times. The pressure finally told and the home side scored their try which was converted. We hit back hard and had an opportunity to score but the pass went down. Burgess Hill spurred on came back strong looking to even up the score which stood at 15-10. With tem minutes to go they moved the ball wide in our twenty two looking to exploit the space out wide. Excellent anticipation from Carr saw him make the interception and run the length of the pitch to score our third of the day. Swadling converted. That proved to be the final score of the day although the handbags came out in the final minutes, a result of the referee not dealing with many off the ball incidents throughout the game, which made the final moments a little heated. At the end of the game we were very happy to get another away win but frustrated at the lack of bonus point again.
Head Coach Rhodri Lewis said, ' We showed a lot of discipline and resilience today and at times played some good rugby. We were frustrated with not getting the reward of quick ball or penalties for that and will have to look at different ways we can deal with that situation in the future. For sixty minutes today we dominated and should have scored more in the first half. We butchered a few good opportunities in that first period through silly mistakes and ultimately that cost us the bonus point. They tried to make it as scrappy as possible today and in general I felt we dealt with that well. We dealt well with their possession in the second half with some good work rate in defence. We are continuing to grow as a team and squad and believe everything is still possible this year. If we are to get to where we want to be, however, we need to convert our periods of possession into tries.'
This week we are playing Barns Green at home. It is a 1pm kick off due to them going off on tour straight after the game. We would love to have your support again and then we can all watch the internationals after the game.