“all 17 players were outstanding today in what was certainly our best team performance of the season”
U15s coach Martin Willats
East Grinstead 29 Lewes 22
The U14s (pictured) travelled to East Grinstead for their third Sussex RFU Waterfall fixture. The stakes were high as both sides are in contention for promotion and neither had been beaten this season. East Grinstead were an intimidating looking bunch with a noisy home crowd behind them. But Lewes were undaunted. They soaked up early East Grinstead pressure with some staunch defensive work then made the most of their opening foray into the home side’s half. In the first set piece scrum of the match the Lewes pack drove forward, hooker Robbie Stoner struck against the head, the ball was swiftly passed wide and outside centre Brad Andersen flew over the line from 40 metres to score. A few minutes later fly half Jack Soltermann chipped over the defence and arch poacher Geordie Gwynn was first to the bounce and used his footballing skills to dribble on and touch down under the posts.
A shell-shocked East Grinstead regrouped and began to fight back. What followed was a thoroughly entertaining and finely balanced contest between two very evenly-matched sides. The home side managed to score twice in reply and the first half finished at 12 points-a-piece, a fair reflection of the run of play. Early in the second half John Weir shrugged off three defenders to rumble over the line to score another classic number 8’s try. And when Geordie Gwynn coolly slotted a penalty a few minutes later it looked like Lewes might just spoil the home side’s Christmas. But East Grinstead rallied again and the scores were level again at 22 all with a nail biting five minutes remaining. Both teams threw caution to the wind in their attempt to come up on top. Lewes came agonisingly close to scoring a couple of times but eventually East Grinstead managed to muscle their way over the tryline to settle the game.
Despite the disappointment of their first defeat of the season the U14s have much to be proud of. Blake Irlam thoroughly justified his first start in a Lewes shirt with a selfless display in the second row. Eddie Wrench stepped up as requested and put in his best game of the season so far. Henry Anstee-Moore was fearlessly effective once again in both attack and defence and was badly missed when injury forced him off the field for the final few minutes. Oliver Andrews made a welcome return from concussion with some determined tackling. And Man of the Match Luke Roberts put in another massive shift including some impressive and inspiring carries deep into enemy territory. But the match was a huge credit to the whole team who kept their shape across the field, tackled hard all day and never gave up.
Supporters from both sides agreed that this was a thrilling game and the East Grinstead Head Coach concluded that Lewes had played the better rugby but were finally undone by the home side’s brawn. It has been a very positive first half of the season for the U14s and they are still in contention for promotion. Coach Nigel Hastings concluded "I was particularly pleased to hear the players talking after the match about what they need to work on in an impressively accurate and informed way. They have won seven from eight so far and if that attitude continues this committed group of players will hopefully keep improving and enjoy more success after the Xmas break."
Tries: Bradleigh Andersen, Geordie Gwynn, John Weir. Conversions: Myles Govus, Geordie Gwynn. Penalties: Geordie Gwynn.
Lewes U15s -19 Hove Spartans U15s 10
With five players missing from Lewes' compact squad of 22, the league match against Hove was always going to be a tough game.
See Phil Goode's photos of the game here>>
Hove have a much bigger squad and attacked hard from the start but Lewes adapted remarkably well with lots of players out of position. They were patient in attack and aggressive and well organised in defence and opened up the scoring with a fine team try finished by Ben Goode.
Goode added the conversion and scored a fine second with a great turn of pace to beat the outside cover. Hove came back strongly and scored a try of their own to make it 12-5.
Lewes scored their 3rd try after sustained pressure, well finished by Rafferty Green. Lewes then lost their playmaker, fly-half Ben Goode, to a nasty head clash.
Hove scored again to make it 19-10 and Lewes dug deep to keep it scoreless in the second half.
Coach Martin Willats concluded: "All in all an excellent team performance with the whole squad really contributing, playing intelligent, committed rugby. Special mention must go to our superb stand in centres Luca & Cam who normally play back row and a beast of a performance from Ciaran on the flank. However all 17 players were outstanding today in what was certainly our best team performance of the season."
Lewes U16s 19-Worthing U16s 19
Coach Paddy Henshasw reckoned this was "not a bad end to the first half of the season with a draw against a former League 1 side, but certainly a game that was there to be won!"
The first half saw Worthing score after almost 20 minutes of closely contested play but then shortly after, a kick charged down by Lewes saw Joe Davis break through their line and score, with a conversion by Oisin McWalter to draw the scores level.
Several periods of end-to-end play saw Worthing score again next closely followed by a try from Maximus Smith to bring Lewes within two points and go into half time 12-14.
The second half followed a similar format with a try and conversion from Oisin McWalter for Lewes to take the lead and then a final unconverted try from Worthing to bring the scores level.
A penalty to Lewes in the last few minutes which did not quite go over, and then a last-minute attempt at a try only to fall a few feet short from James Willets saw the game draw to a close at 19-19.
Henshaw concluded "a draw was probably the fairest result on the day, but with quicker hands and more width, who knows what the result might have been!"
Tries: Joe Davies, Maximus Smith, Oisin McWalter. Conversions: Oisin McWalter (2)
Heathfield 7 Waldron Colts B 58-Lewes Colts 5
This was a deeply frustrating game for the Lewes who could only muster 12 of their 21 players. Coach Pete Barron said "the 12 who turned out played their socks off against a 19 man squad who were able to rotate on to the pitch and give each other a rest." There was some heroic tackling by Tobias Greenwood (obviously helped by his new hat), Dexter Vigar (who finds this easy compared to the 1st XV for whom he made his debut this year), Tom Rourke (going for the ankles of the bigger opponents) and particularly the relentless chase-backs of captain and Man-of-the-Match Mitch Perks. Ben Gedrych was a revelation in the backs. He has always been flexible as to where he plays but he definitely looked at home on the wing or as fullback.
For most of the first half, Lewes dominated territory but could not quite finish off their attacks and, as they started to tire, their hosts scored three times at the end of the half.
An early Heathfield try in the second half put Lewes on the back foot but a relentless surge led to second-row Sam Crichton crossing over on the righthand side. There should have been a couple more scores for Lewes but the slimy wet ball slipped from the grasp at key moments. Despite their fine spirit the Lewes 12 were too tired to prevent four tries in the last 10 minutes.
Try: Samuel Crichton
Updated 19:47 - 8 Jan 2018 by Peter Barron