League Champions - Too Hot for Holbrook
34 - 5
I have followed Holbrook’s results with interest, knowing we would face the West League winners both home and away at the end of the season to determine the overall Sussex 4 champions. And suddenly, here we were, both sides in great form, both determined to show they were the best. What a day to play it on too - It felt more like a cup final than a league match, and wow, wasn’t it hot (my sunburned neck is testimony to this!). The pitch was hard and fast, the support was vocal, and it was time to get this epic underway.
Injury and unavailability had meant we were disappointingly short this week, especially in the forwards, so when Mikey’s wrist went pop in the warm up, we had a problem. You can’t play rugby with only seven forwards, so George Skip bravely volunteered to put on the 7 shirt which now left us only two subs, both backs!
Much to Sean’s enormous and very obvious delight, the kick to start the game did not travel the required distance, and so a scrum was awarded to Holbrook on the halfway line. The big prop had been so disappointed that last week’s scrums had to be uncontested, that he had sulked all week, but for our pack this was an ideal way to start, to lay down a marker, to show this big Holbrook pack that we could push a bit too! And so it was, with a colossal effort, seven forwards (and a back), pushed hard and won our first penalty of the game - an awesome start! Playing quick rugby, we put Holbrook under serious pressure with great phase play, huge defence and lovely tactical kicking. It wasn’t long before a lovely dummy from Jordan, playing 10 as Ben enjoys Australia for a couple of weeks, saw him ghost through the line to score our first points of the day.
Holbrook are a good side however and they came roaring back down the left. A clever chip over the top saw G’s scramble in defence only a few yards from their own line. Holbrook recycled and battered our line with large direct runners. The defence was up to it, just, and the ball was eventually held up over the line and a five yard scrum awarded to Holbrook in the shadow of the posts. Another huge effort by the pack meant the ball wasn’t clean and our blitz defence again did it’s job as the ball spun loose. Lee, like a wily old fox, was after it in a flash but was illegally blocked and a G’s penalty awarded. Danger over for the time being and a brilliant defensive shift which was at least as good as a try. Awesome again!
It was then time for Titch to show what he could do. Three runs, 84 sidesteps and two great tries later, saw the speedy winger rub salt in the oppo wounds, and got the scoreboard showing a healthy 15 - 0 at half time. Regular readers will know that for the last couple of weeks, healthy half time leads have been thrown away in the second period, so none of us was celebrating yet. For our half time snack over these two offending weeks, we have eaten Haribo Smurf’s - This week Haribo Minion’s were on the menu. I like to think it was this radicle change that helped, but I suspect it was more Pack Leader Tommy Bowden and then Jambo’s rousing cry to the forwards to keep going that did the trick. Indeed it wasn’t long into the second half before Tommy, leading by example not once but twice, broke through with devastating pace and power. The first run ended in a sublime offload out of the back ot his hand, the second in a try of great individual skill and tenacity. This one was converted and I started to relax with the score at 22 - 0. Thinks felt even better when quick hands saw the ball in Marriott’s hands. A quick step and he was through for another converted score.
Jack Skip had joined us at half time to give Aaron a breather, and now a bit of cramp for George Skip saw Az re-enter the fray in the back row. Joey Marriott also came on to give us some fresh legs out wide. Any thoughts we had that Holbrook were down and out were quickly put to bed when a nice break down the middle saw them in behind the defensive line, good hands saw a fine finish in the left corner to leave the scoreboard showing 29 - 5 and Holbrook heads were lifted. Thankfully, the comeback didn’t materialise, and the game was finished the way it was started, with a lovely dummy and score from the excellent Jordan.
A brilliant game which I massively enjoyed and I must say a huge thank you to Holbrook who were great opposition. MOM could have gone to many brave lads, Rurai, playing at 8 in his first competitive game back after a year out with a broken and dislocated ankle was simply brilliant, Tommy Bowden was faultless in his leadership and his rugby. Aaron was sublime in the centre and back row, George so good, Titch and Jordan with two scores each.... every player made a case, but my MOM was Jambo Funnell who was everywhere all game - great passion, power, pace and performance. My hero! DOTD was Ben Gray again - For being ‘down under’ and not here!
Having moved next weekend’s return fixture forward a week (So we can watch the first team playing their cup final on the 22nd), I was a little alarmed to hear that so many lads are off Easter egg hunting and can’t play. It would be great to go unbeaten all season, so please update your availability on Pitchero ASAP so we can see what we have to take back down to Holbrook.