Change of Form, against Eastbourne
19 - 7
When I heard on Friday that Eastbourne’s 1st team game had been postponed, I knew we would be in for a tough game on Saturday. Having raced back from London and quickly changed, I reached the touchline 10 minutes after kick off to hear the news that we were a converted try down already, I groaned and thought ‘here we go again’, but in that moment, the ball was whizzed out to Jake Radcliffe, who powered around and through the first two defenders and then with a brilliant stretch, ground the ball to lift everyone’s spirits and turn the momentum our way.
The tight five were a different proposition this week, with Sean and Will brilliant in the scrum and the loose, Peaty and Tim securing the lineout and making yards in attack. This gave us a much better platform for Matt Brooke, playing his first game at 9, to release his runners. And release them he did! Sandys, Halligey, and Dodge, all bustling through the gain line. When defence was needed, everyone stepped up and pressured the attack really clinically and effectively, with Liam Casey everywhere - I would love to see his tackle stats for the game. Huge hits from Peaty and Sandys also stopped the attack dead, but it wasn’t until a searing break from Radcliffe again down the right saw the ball swiftly recycled and pop out to Ben to dot down and then convert to take us five points clear. It stayed like this for the rest of the half and apart from some amazing tree climbing action when I retrieved the ball from a rather prickly holly, was largely uneventful.
If we thought that Eastbourne had given up we were sorely mistaken. They came roaring out of the blocks and for the next 20 minutes were camped in our half. Some extraordinary clearing kicks were rather scary (Don’t let a second row kick the ball), but we held out with Keeley and Casey again to the fore and the centres munching anyone who came close. Brooke’s cultured boot off the base was also a real positive as we repelled the oppo runners again and again. The last quarter saw us regain some control and work our way up the pitch but we knew that one mistake would lead to what had happened for the last three weeks - another last ditch defeat!
It is what made me so proud, that when thinks got twitchy, instead of panic, I saw composure. Instead of mistakes under pressure, I saw controlled, sensible rugby. Instead of conceding, I saw a lovely short ball to Tom Sandys who crashed over under the posts to make the game safe and get our first win of the season - It won’t be the last.
Thank you boys for a brilliant afternoon. So good to win!
Special mentions to Sean ‘Black Ball’ Morgan (Does anyone know what black ball is?) who gave us huge go forward in the scrum and maul - made a huge difference, Jake Radcliffe for a brilliant second team debut on the wing, Matt Brooke who did so well at 9 and John Peaty who’s leadership and presence brought us up a level, but my MoM goes to Liam Casey for a heroic defensive effort! Top work buddy! (Although his technique in beer and Mars bar disappearance may need some work).
Sean awarded DOTD to Matty Brooke for his lovely reflex blue trousers which Sean said even he would never wear.