“The handling would have been impressive on a dry spring morning let alone in extremely wet, cold and windy conditions.”
U14s Coach Nigel Hastings
Bognor Regis U13s 40-Lewes U13s 0
The U13s' final competitive match of 2017 was an away league game against Bognor Regis.
The weather was verging on the Arctic but thankfully not snowing, however the rain and occasional hail blown virtually horizontal by very strong winds made it a trying day for both players and spectators.
It was known that Bognor were a strong team and their coach advised that he selected from a squad of 35 players! Lewes on the other hand had just 16 players available.
The first 15 minutes were very evenly matched, Lewes dominating the scrum and even winning some ball against the head but their backs were failing to make much headway against a stalwart Bognor defence.
At the 20 minute mark Bognor made a tactical replacement. This player made an immediate impact powering up the left wing to set up Bognor's first try. For whatever reason, this try seemed to break the Lewes side's will to resist and the end result was that Bognor ran in two more tries in quick succession to end the first half 15-0 up. Lewes' woes being added to by full-back, Pierre Burrows, having to go off injured after a kick to the head when trying valiantly to stop the Bognor surge.
A re-jigged Lewes side started the second half with Elliott Newman filling in as full back and Finn Keegan taking up a slot in the second row. However, Lewes could not stem the now confident Bognor squad. A try for the home team after five minutes was the start of a fairly monotonous run of play with Bognor scoring regularly. Although Lewes had possession and spent time in Bognor's half they could not get the scoring finish.
Further injuries to Finn Keegan and Jack Plamer meant that replacement Lars Kersten-Harwood was back on again as 'super sub' for the final desperate minutes of the game, the referee eventually signalling full-time with Bognor running out 40-0 winners.
Coach Bob Lockyer concluded that "despite the fact that we are a small squad so couldn't swap our forwards at half-time, the performance of the pack in the scrum today was great and they were still contesting the push right up to the final whistle. Albee Wilson did a grand job at scrum-half providing quality ball and was still shouting encouragement to the team in the dying seconds of the game. In the unfamiliar position at full back Elliott Newman tackled superbly stopping several potentially try scoring runs by powerful Bognor players."
Lewes U14s 55 Eastbourne U14s 7
The U14s welcomed Eastbourne to the Stanley Turner ground for their second Sussex RFU Waterfall match of the season. The adverse weather conditions threatened to turn the game into a messy, error-strewn encounter. However, the match was anything but. The home side played some of their best rugby all season whilst the visitors proved to be very spirited opposition, refusing to fold despite consistent Lewes pressure from the start.
Once again Lewes were dominant in the set piece scrum whilst their handling and support play defied the persistent wind, rain and mud. A terrific strike against the head by Robbie Stoner led to an early opening score with Luke Roberts charging through midfield to touch down under the posts. Roberts carried well all game whilst Man of the Match John Weir put in another huge shift at number 8, scoring a hat trick of tries and tackling and scrummaging all over the pitch. Jude Littlewood was a spikey presence at full back and always looked threatening running from deep. Geordie Gwynn seemed to weave through the opposition at will, Reece Manser kept punching holes in the visitor’s defence and Brad Andersen capped another elusive running performance at outside centre with a brilliant try-saving tackle towards the end of the match.
This was yet another terrific team performance epitomised in the second half by a move in which the ball moved from right wing to left and back again and was brilliantly finished in the right hand corner by winger Alex Brydon. Despite being 32-7 up at the interval, the squad was fully aware that there were several aspects on which they needed to improve, particularly at the breakdown. In the second half they were much more physical at the ruck and the resulting possession led to another four tries.
Coach Nigel Hastings concluded: "This is proving to be a talented and committed squad that is playing well both with and for each other and has a real appetite to keep improving. The handling would have been impressive on a dry spring morning let alone in extremely wet, cold and windy conditions. It was also very pleasing that despite all five replacements being introduced early in the second half the team kept its shape and stuck to the game plan. Another well deserved bonus point victory."
Tries: Luke Roberts (2) John Weir (3) Geordie Gwynn (2) Finley Toghill, Alex Brydon
Conversions: Myles Govus (4) Geordie Gwynn
The U15s game at Eastbourne was cancelled.
Crawley Colts 63-Lewes Colts 40
Despite playing in dreadful cold and damp conditions, hampered by playing 12-a-side (Crawley had 12 players and Lewes 14) and players having to play out of position, there was some brilliant attacking rugby and some spirited defence from both sides in a pulsating match. Crawley scored six tries in the first half to Lewes' three and Lewes scored another three in the second half whilst Crawley went over the line a further five times.
Quick reactions made all the difference. Man-of-the-Match fly-half Dan Billin was brilliant at controlling the attack and used his football skills to score one of his tries. Harvey Joy upped his game and thundered into Crawley's main attacker who had been running through Lewes. It was fantastic to see skipper Mitch Perks back in the side and in such good form. Newcomer Manu Fievet had his best game yet for Lewes showing what his physicality could achieve. Sam Crichton, Jamie Austen and Elliott Curl blasted through and took on Crawley's big attackers. Toby Greenwood was a revelation playing in the centre with his pace and sidestep and also football skills in creating the first try for Joy. Josh Putland made his debut and looked comfortable and pacy at fullback. Prop Will Brydon reacted quickly to opportunities and scored a great try on the wing after an offload from Louis Barron. Merlin Evans-Freke always scores at Crawley and had a fantastic game and Tom Rourke had a busy game at scrum-half beforer taking a knock. Theo Wrench showed how he is Lewes' best lineout jumper and there were some awesome mauls.
Coach Pete Barron summed up thus: "We were electric in attack but we still need to avoid contact more often by offloading earlier to a support runner who is screaming for the pass. When we do go into contact, we need to position the ball so that it can be easily passed to the back of a maul. Catchers need to go sideways to lessen the chance of knock-ons.
In defence, we pressed up much better but still need some technique improvement. We also need to work on a structure where we have a second line of defence."
Tries: Harvey Joy, Samuel Crichton, Will Brydon, Merlin Evans-Freke, Dan Billin (2). Conversions Dan Billin (5). Man-of-the-Match: Dan Billin
Updated 21:28 - 18 Dec 2017 by Peter Barron