Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks hosted Fordingbridge RFC from Hampshire in the National Junior Vase 2nd round.
The All Blacks started well taking the game to their larger opponents. The back row of Joe Schofield, Connor Chatfield and Dave Wattam were making good ground with ball in hand before releasing their nippy half backs Massimo Hiller and Sam David.
The first score came after five minutes of All Blacks pressure. David released his back line that saw winger Matheus Gava sprint up the line before setting up a ruck. The ball was passed by David to centre Dave Daly returning to action after becoming a dad recently who offloaded to Chatfield who crashed over in the corner. Inside centre Jordan Sayers narrowly missed the extras from the touch line for a 5-0 lead.
Fordingbrudge came out of the blacks and after a string of phases were awarded a penalty for the the All Blacks not rolling away at the ruck. Their full back stepped up and slotted the 30 metre penalty 5-3.
The All Blacks came straight back at Fordingbridge and after some strong carries by the second row pairing of Tim Daniel and Christian Jones in his first game back after getting married the ball was spun wide. David dummied and took a gap before sprinting on 10 metres where he grubber kicked for the corner.
Gava and his opposite winger battled for the lose ball before the artful dodger himself Schofield picked up the lose ball and dived into the corner. Sayers once more went narrowly close for a 10-3 lead.
Fordingbridge once more came back at the All Blacks who showed tremendous defence to keep their opponents out when they looked certain to score.
It was at this point that the All Blacks lost 2 players, winger Tommer Teichmann failed to shake off his flu like symptoms and dragged himself off the pitch along with Chatfield whose glass like body gave him another injury to add to the collection. On came 7’s specialist winger Pete Blenkarn and 17 year old second row Charlie Rutter.
The All Blacks continued to press Fordingbridge with Sayers and Daly unlocking the back line before offloading to the ever present forwards who were having a good day versus their larger opponents. All Fordingbridge could do in return was give away penalties. Not one to turn down the opportunity of points, Sayers added 2 of these penalties to extend the lead to 16-3.
At another penalty Sayers kicked for the corner where a line out drive was held up over the line. At the scrum the black pack drove the Fordingbridge pack over their try line where Wattam touched down for the score. Sayers once more went close but could not add the extras to end the half 21-3.
The All Blacks started the second half as they ended the first in total control. Within 5 minutes Sayers had added another penalty to take the lead to 24-3. Following another penalty the ball was kicked for the corner. At the lineout Jones rose like a Salmon to collect the ball. The Black pack set up a maul and creeped towards the Fordingbridge line where Tim Daniel crashed over for the unconverted score 29-3.
The Fordingbridge captain rallied his troops at this point and they came straight back at the All Blacks and following a number of forward drives their back line showed great hands, pace and endeavour that saw their winger go in for the converted score 29-8.
This score spurred on Fordingbridge and they pressed for another score. Once more the All Blacks showed steeley defence to keep wave after wave of attack out.
After soaking up the pressure it was the All Blacks turn to once more press for the score. After a round of ariel ping pong, the All Blacks Aussie Rules full back Matt Bird showed his ability under the high ball as he collected the ball at full tilt before deftly kicking for the corner.
The All Blacks pressed hard and turned over the ball at the ruck. Hooker Andy Mackay hacked the ball through and was destined to score before being tackled without the ball. The referee was left with no choice but to award a penalty try. Sayers added the extras 36-8.
Fordingbridge had the last word of the game as they showed great fighting spirit that saw their pack power over for an unconverted score in the last action of the game 36-15.
This was a solid performance for the All Blacks and with their 2s winning 51-17 in the Sussex cup vs Cinque Ports things are looking good for the men in black.
The Ridgeview Wine Estate Man of the Match went to Christian Jones who in his first competitive game of this season was excellent at the set piece and a jackal in defence.
The All Blacks are the only remaining Sussex team in an RFU cup and will find out this week who their next opponents are in the next round which takes place on the 3rd December.
The All Blacks are next in action on the 26th November at home to Shoreham in the league KO 2:30pm.
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