Last Saturday the Sussex All Blacks travelled to Crawley in the league. With both teams competing for the league play off spot with 2 games to go it was all to play for.
The men in black narrowly beat Crawley at home earlier in the season with the last kick of the game 9-6 so everything was set for a titanic battle.
The All Blacks started at a canter using their powerful pack to make in roads into the Crawley half. The likes of hooker and captain Ben Dewey, the back row of Dave Wattam, Connor Chatfield and Adam Rez carried hard breaking tackle after tackle. Such was the barrage that Crawley lost 2 players to injury in the first 20 minutes.
Despite the dominance the All Blacks were making unforced errors in their urgency to score. All they had to show in the first 25 minutes was 2 missed penalty shots at goal.
With 15 go the Crawley scrum half who was by far their best player took the initiative at a penalty and tapped and went. He ran 50 metres before kicking the ball through.
Luckily for the men in black winger Pete Blenkarn showed great feet and calmness to beat 2 defenders before kicking to touch. This was the only time Crawley got into the Hill half all game.
This chance made the men in black concentrate more and they dominated the last 10 minutes.
From a scrum on the Crawley 22, scrum half Massimo Hiller passed to fly half Rhys Clarke who in turn miss passed to outside centre Ant Baldwin who ran at the angle. After getting half tackled 10 metres out, Baldwin passed off the floor to Clarke who passed to looping inside centre Luke Mortell who ran in from 10 metres to score. Clarke added the extras 0-7.
With minutes left on the clock and almost carbon copy try came. This time Baldwin drove the ball on towards the Crawley try line. At the ruck Rezazadeh picked up and dived over next to the post. Clarke added the extra for a half time score of 0-14.
The men in black knew Crawley would come out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and that is what they did. For 20 minutes they pounded the Hill line. The All Blacks defence has been one of the meanest in the league and despite the onslaught looked comfortable throughout the barrage.
After soaking up the pressure the game became open and the All Blacks started to play again with full back Dave Daly showing some neat touches to create space. On the wing Max Wilson was also starting to eat up the yards. The All Blacks began to get into the Crawley half again and following a string on penalties they went for it. 15 metres out in front of the posts it looked like Clarke would go for goal. Instead he passed out wide. Wattam using all his experience cut and angle dummied and crashed over for the unconverted score.
Crawley looked dead on their feet and the All Blacks went for the kill. At the kick off Philippine International second row Ashley Heward showed his pace and footwork opening up the Crawley defence. The Crawley scrum half put in a wonderful tackle to atop the rampaging Heward. At the ruck Hiller went on a snipe before passing to prop Paul Hasib who was running up the wing like a hippo on the Serengeti. He was scythed down 10 metres out where he popped to the ever present Chatfield who ran into the corner to score and unconverted try 0-24. With less than a minute on the clock after a mistake at the scrum the excellent Crawley scrum half ran in untouched to score a converted try to end the game 7-24.
With Hellingly also losing the Sussex All Blacks look favourites to make the play off game vs second in Kent 1. All they need from their last game vs Chichester 3’s at home on the 11th April is 1 league point.
Sussex Osteopathy man of the match winning a free session went to centre Luke Mortell who was excellent in attack and defence.