Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks travelled to Seaford in the league.
It was an unusual start to the Saturday with local and national news reports of a toxic cloud over Seaford. Thankfully the Seaford faithful explained it was nothing more than rotting seaweed and as such the game was on.
The All Blacks made 5 changes to their squad from the game against Barns Green the week before. The conditions at the Salts ground were typically cold and blustery as is the norm in Seaford.
The All Blacks started the game well with the wind at their backs. Using their forward pack they created holes in the Seaford defence before releasing their back line. The wind really hindered any flowing backs play and as such the All Blacks were left playing a little one dimentional which suits Seaford.
Both teams were struggling with the penalty count partly due to the combatative nature of the game and partly due to the referee. One such penalty to the All Blacks on the half way line after 15 minutes saw fly half OJ kick cross field. Winger Mike Jennings raced on to the ball before offloading in the tackle to outside centre John Rainima who dotted down in the corner. Inside centre Dave Daly narrowly missed the extras from the touch line, 0-5.
The All Blacks were now in total control and were throwing the kitchen sink at Seaford. Seaford however are a very physical team and defended very well stopping wave after wave of attack.
The dame finally burst when the ball was spun wide to open side flanker Russ Sailosi who in turn threw a miss pass to Rainima who side stepped his way to the line to score his second try. Daly added the extras 0-12.
The All Blacks continued to pound away at the line with winger Matheus Gave going close on two occasions only for the black pack to be penalised for coming off their feet at the ruck.
One penalty resulted in Seaford chasing a kick and going the length of the field only to be called back for flopping on a defender on the floor that saw the ball shoot lose.
At half time the All Blacks were confident they could add further scores as they expected their heavy weight opposition to fade and tire.
The first 20 minutes of the half were a dull affair with both teams wrestling for possession between the 22s. The All Blacks were inching up the park using their pack before giving away a penalty which was kicked down field in the strong wind where they had to start clawing their way up the pitch again. The highlight of this period was a collision between Jennings and his opposite winger which was reminiscent of two rutting stags in mating season.
The final 20 minutes of the half were all Seaford. With 15 minutes to go they spun the ball wide and their winger squeezed in the corner for the try. Their full back slotted the touchline conversion, 7-12.
This score gave the men from the Salts a shot in the arm and they threw the kitchen sink at the All Blacks using their powerful forward runners and nippy half backs to create space. They pounded away at the line coming close time and time again. Thank fully for the All Blacks the second row of Tim Daniel and Adam Rez along with their back row of Christian Jones, Ben Dewey and Dave Wattam were steeley strong in defence.
The game ended with Jennings turning over the ball at the ruck and winning the penalty. OJ kicked the ball deep into touch to end the game and take the win.
The All Blacks were pleased with the win but were disappointed with the performance and especially the penalty count.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate man of the match went to Matheus Gava who carried well all afternoon and was unlucky not to score on more than one occasion.
Next week the All Blacks host East Grinstead who they lost away to 23-21 in the second game of the season.