Last Saturday Burgess Hill RFC 1st XV hosted their first home league game of the season vs Worthing Senior 1.
With the 2nds also at home and a supporters lunch there was a large vociferous crowd supporting the Sussex All Blacks.
Hill started at a canter using their pacey backline to stretch Worthing at every opportunity.
After a kick to the corner by Worthing, blind side winger Owain Larard span the ball to fly half Rhys Clarke who released his backline where outside centre Ant Baldwin made a great break up the opposite touchline before being dragged down around the half way line.
A quick ruck ensued with the back row of Jon Phillpot, Adam Rez and Dave Wattam on hand to clean out the Worthing defenders. The ball was then spun wide by Massimo Hiller on his league debut at scrum half to Rhys Clarke who danced round 2 defenders before applying the afterburners breaking one strong tackle before scoring in the corner. Clarke narrowly missed the extras for a 5-0 lead.
From the kick off the forwards carried the ball on 10 metres before the ball was once again passed wide. This time inside centre Jake Roberts ran a great line creating a hole before offloading to winger Max Wilson who went on a 60 metre run beating 6 defenders on route to score under the sticks. Clarke cannoned the ball into the upright 10 – 0 within 10 minutes.
Hill were now in complete control and it looked like it could be a long day for Worthing. Rather than going for the kill however Hill sat back and let Worthing play. Using their rangey forward runners and powerful centres Worthing began to make ground and were building phases. After a break by their number 8 Worthing had a ruck on the 22. Hill looked comfortable until a lapse of concentration resulted in the converted try. A whistle went on the other field and the Hill defenders looked up confused the Worthing scrum half pounced darting past 2 puzzled defenders to run in under the posts for the converted try 10-7.
This score woke the men in black up for 5 minutes as they started to use their powerful forward runners to suck in defenders. At one ruck 30 metres out Hiller picked up and dummied to one player before passing to Rez on the angle who brushed off 2 defenders before crashing under the sticks. As Clarke was receiving some attention, full back Dave Daly stepped up and converted 17-7.
Worthing came straight back at Hill and following Hill killing the ball at a ruck the ball was kicked to the corner. The Worthing pack showed real patience and their rolling maul drove on an over for the score by their number 8. Their fly half converted from wide out to end the half 17-14.
Worthing smelt blood and they started the second half very brightly and after some fine play by their backs scored a try wide out which was unconverted to take the lead 17 – 19.
The Hill pack responded to this score minutes later when at a 5 metre scrum they drove the Worthing pack over their own line where No.8 Dave Wattam touched down. Clarke stepped up and slotted the conversion 24-19.
The restart could not have gone worse for Hill as replacement back row Christian Jones made a break before being tap tackled where he popped the ball up to the Magpie like Worthing winger who ran in to score a converted try, 24-26.
With 10 minutes left on the clock it looked like Worthing were going to get their win. Hill however noticed their opposition were tiring and began to play for territory. After a great chase by Larard and Daly the ball was kicked lose at the ruck where hooker and captain Ben Dewey picked up the loose ball and crashed over in the corner for the unconverted score 29-26.
With 5 to go Worthing killed the ball 40 metres out and Clarke slotted his best kick of the day to lead 32-26.
Worthing went for the win in the last 2 minutes however Hill showed tremendous defence to keep them out.
Hill are now 3 for 3 in the league. Due to a bye in the cup, Hill’s first team are next in action on 11th October away to Holbrook RFC based in Horsham.
If anyone would like to play for the Sussex All Blacks, please contact Director of Rugby Ross Hallifax on 07941 016836 or firstname.lastname@example.org