By Gus Goodwin
Always out numbered . Never outgunned
Week four of the season and Festival two was on the schedule - this time Eastbourne and a beautiful warm Autumnal day replaced the drizzle and gales at Hasting the week before. I much larger squad went this week but with notable absentees in the shape of Sam, Spud and Will. Ben is yet to make his festival debut but there are plenty on the agenda.
The opposition included the great and the good of Sussex Rugby, and we wound up in a pool that included Newick and Hastings who were strong last week and looked to have found their mojo’s in the opening salvos. First up for the Super 11’s was East Grinstead, a big club boasting several teams at this level and what could have been a big test. However we caught them cold, like us they boasted a couple of big strong strike runners who they employed early on to no effect. Henry Horton sending the first backwards at pace before good turnover ball saw the returning Rufus Edmonds press the turbo button and getting over the line. One way traffic ensued as Ollie put in some ankle jangling tackles and EG’s heads went down. Henry crossed and Ryan Wilson took up where he left off last week with aggressive driving gaining hard yards. Elliot took the opportunity to emulate Ryan with some really dirtied running into traffic too. EG were broken and all the squad got to the pitch. Zach was everywhere, less ball in hand but securing our ball at every turn and Shoreham triumphed 4-2.
Next up were Burgess Hill who had a point to prove after last week’s mauling and they had learned plenty from their defeat at Hastings. They had several excellent tenacious players who did all they could to repel borders, however with Rory Slack back in the fold, and organising at the base of rucks they stood little chance - Rufus applied the speed and Burgess Hill were done for. Charles Lockyer, sporting a go faster haircut and a real zeal this season took the ball on several time recycling excellently to ensure Shoreham were fed further opportunities with Henry again aiming for Adam’s wallet and sending Ollie over the line for more fiscal hilarity on the sidelines. Jamie Johnson was gliding around with his regular poise, cutting in but finding Burgess Hill closing the door, but with Austin Jackson and Hayden Salvage on his shoulder the ball was secured and recycled to Rufus who benefitted from more great team work from the engine room of the team. Final score was 4-1 to Shoreham
Hastings & Bexhill came next, such was the expectation for this clash that England, Harlequins and Lions Prop Joe Marler came to watch. He wouldn’t have been disappointed by what he saw. Last week’s pool meant we didn’t play each other but coaches and players alike were anticipating this with some glee. H&B have improved enormously over the past two seasons and this was a real clash of the titans, as Henry and their own version of Henry collided over and over. Elliot made a massive hit early on and Finn got angry. Really Angry. He responded the way Rugby players should. He channelled his inner Marler and made some solid hits of his own. Early on their speedy version of Ollie crossed and that was to be the only score of the game. Shoreham knocked on the door but H&B were resolute. Jamie and Hayden made sinking runs into the enemy territory, and the continuity play of Shoreham was incredible. The coaches counted a passage with 8 phases of unbroken possession. Whilst we came away without a W their coach conceded we were the best team he had encountered all season. Joe Marler was on hand for selfies to cheer the boys up. Score was H&B 1-0 Shoreham.
Last on the agenda were our hosts Eastbourne who had set the bar high, especially with their old alumni in residence. The boys had tired through their endeavours but did the club, and themselves proud, triumphing in Eastbourne’s back garden. Jamie Johnson scoring an opportunist try, showing that listening the ref is always a great idea. Gaius Goodwin made a couple of text book tackles, to compliment the excellent charges of Charles and Ryan, both really gaining the front foot advantage necessary for the likes of Rufus and Ollie to capitalise. Ollie crossed once before an excellent run and subsequent tackle saw him limp off. Zach was at hand to come and deliver a strong performance, in spite of a bee sting to the eye, that led to an inevitable victory. Austin Jackson again proved to be a solid performer particularly in breakdown situations. Final battle score was Eastbourne 1 – 5 Shoreham.
Some stand out performers this week with Charles and Ryan coming to mix up the deck and create strong competition for places. The ball went to Rory for his unbelievably competitive streak but easily could have gone to Finn for his ruthless scrummaging and committed tackling. Elliot must have read last week’s report and upped his game massively to give another option in the loose whilst the text book technique of Jamie’s rucking deserves praise too.
We can go home and be proud of our efforts this week again, but for an incredibly spirited performance by H&B we could have left with a clean record. Next week is more local, with Brighton hosting their festival at Waterhall, an event that we usually miss out on, the Blues explicitly invited us due to the incredibly high quality of Rugby we serve up for Sunday Lunch. Let’s heal those bumps and come back next week to show how at home we are in the higher echelons of Sussex Rugby.
Always out numbered .Never outgunned
Non semper excepti a pluribus pauciores et quae autocinetum