1st XV take the spoils in muddy affair
Eastbourne 5 - 13 EGRFC
Having played Eastbourne earlier in the season and won comprehensively we went in to the reverse fixture knowing that we were capable of taking the points but were also aware of their improved performances of late and how much of an impact the conditions could have on the outcome.
Right from the off the pitch began to deteriorate and it was clear that the forwards were going to have to do much of the work to avoid unforced errors from playing an expansive game. For the majority of the first half the game was played in our attacking half but the mud caked ball proved tricky to negotiate and we were guilty of spilling the ball in contact far too often. This said, we remained the aggressor and forced a kickable penalty on 20 mins which Steven Cooke
duly converted to opening the scoring. We were certainly the stronger side in the scrum and although it was loose under foot our pack were able to dominate proceedings. It was the line out that was turning in to a bit of a lottery with both hookers having to work against a wet ball, the wind and jumpers who were sliding out of their lifters’ hands. A close contest as far as the scoreboard suggests with a narrow 3-0 lead taken in to the break.
Bertram Beanland and Christopher Pentney
entered the fray to freshen things up and gave Eastbourne something different to deal with in the loose. Almost instantly it was Pentney who began to make inroads with some tremendous running lines. The game followed suit with the hosts defending well and clearing their lines at every opportunity but it was Grinstead who had the larger share of possession. On the hour mark another kickable penalty was awarded and sensibly taken by Mark Oliver
. Three further points from Cooke’s boot kept the score board ticking over. Within a couple of minutes we were on the attack once again but rather than go through the hands, Cooke opted for a cross field kick which kindly held up just enough for Sam Montagu
to collect and dot down out wide. With the conversion successful the score line was extended to 13-0 and the game looked to be finally swaying in EG’s favour. Eastbourne had other ideas and began to work their way back in to the game with some positive ball carrying from their 10/12 combination. Deservedly so, they worked our defence hard and created just enough space to find a way through to the try line but the missed conversion left them needing two further scores and with little time on the clock we knew we could run out the clock.
Standing in for Rhodri Lewis, Martyn Ansboro
said "This was not the greatest spectacle for the crowd but credit has to go to the boys for playing to the conditions. Defence was kept tight for 75 minutes, we didn’t overplay in dangerous areas and we tried to stick to the game plan. This is the business end of the season where winning the game and getting the job done is the most important thing. Hellingly may be too far away to catch to take top spot but we will continue to do our best to keep the pressure on as much as possible."
Next week is the final game of the regular season away to Ditchling before the top four break away in what will be 6 very difficult and physical matches.