Pulsating Play at Ports
By Matt Marriott
19 - 49
After our battering at Rye last weekend, we faced another long trip, to Hastings, to play our friends and rivals Cinque Ports. Desperate to make amends after being blown away by a huge Rye team, we knew Ports would offer a similar challenge, indeed, we were beaten by Ports at the same stage last season - a game that was still fresh in the memory.
Having lost four key players late in the day due to illness and call ups, we were a little threadbare, and weren’t helped by Guy and Lukis tuning up 10 mins after kick off! These 10 minutes were a little scary, but we held on until they arrived, and then started to play! Great forward pressure and a series of pick and go’s saw the ball inches short, but one more drive from Ben Watkinson saw the ball grounded over the whitewash. This good start was continued just minutes later when a quickly taken free kick was fed to Marriott who burst through several defenders to score under the sticks - 0 - 12.
Our excellent fly half, Matt Brooke took a knock and was ushered to the sidelines to get patched up and Ports took this opportunity to turn up the power. Our tackling was tested to the full as waves of attack broke on our defensive line, big hits from Dom and Ross kept them at bay. But just when danger looked to have been averted, the ball popped to the Ports skipper who scampered down the left to score a converted try. The score stayed locked at 7 - 12 until the ref blew for the half and both sides withdrew to lick their wounds.
Make no mistake, this was a proper game. Spectators from both sides were on the edge of their seats (There weren’t actually any seats, but you know what I mean). Ports started the second period like a train and delighted their fans by scoring a brilliant try on the right after the direction of play was quickly reversed. Their squeals turned to euphoria as, five minutes later, their players battered over again for another unstoppable forward dominated score. The game had been turned on it’s head! 19 - 12 and a mountain to climb, both physically and mentally.
I could not ask for more from my brave boys. As the game ticked into the final quarter and Brooke, back on the pitch, orchestrating, Oli and Dom linking in the centres, Guy and Ross making dents, OJ everywhere in attack and defence and Morely once again brilliant around the park. Another break up the middle saw Marriott make yards, quick ball was fed down the line for Dom to smash over in the corner to bring us closer and lift our heads. The crowd was quietened still more when great pace from OJ saw the flanker clear and home to take the lead once more.
Ports are a fine side however, and they wouldn’t lie down. Huge pressure then followed and both scrums, and lineouts, were successfully defended on our five meter line. This effort by our pack was marvelous and just as important as any of our tries. Finally a mistake from the oppo saw the ball loose and it was quickly fed to the left and into Henry’s hands. The young winger had plenty to do and men to beat, but do it he did, as he ran in a scorcher. A huge clearing kick from Marriott saw Henry again streak after the pill and tackle the Ports player only a few yards from their line. More pressure from our arriving players came rushing in until the ball squirted out the back of the ruck for the grateful Brooke to drop on it for our sixth of the afternoon and I began to think we were safe. We weren’t quite done as Dom offloaded to Ross on the wing (I think the 8 was having a breather out there). He bulldozed through would be tacklers, before feeding Oli who again passed inside to OJ who crossed again for his brace - a brilliant team try. The last play of the game saw Pete Morely rewarded for his excellent game with a bullocking drive over from five yards. The ref blew on a scintillating game, enjoyed by all who played and watched, with the final scoreboard showing an incredible 19 - 49. This from our boys who were seven points down with 20 minutes to play - Awesome!
Massive thanks to Cinque Ports, who remain my favourite team to play, if only they were nearer!!! DotD must go to Guy and Lukis for being so ridiculously late!! I was tempted to give MoM to Jack Miller who played the last five minutes at 8 after Ross hobbled off. It was certainly a most humorous sight to see him pack down. I actually heard Darren and Pete ask him if he was pushing. But it actually goes to Olly Jones (OJ). A brilliant game from a fine prospect!
Next week is a cup game against Ditchling who play in our first teams league! Your support will be much appreciated as always!