“The positives so far have been the forwards having quickly adapted to lifting in the lineouts and being able to use quick ball ‘off the top’ as well and the catch and drive, the defence on our own try line has been a real strength keeping the opposition o”
U15s coach Ben Green
Lewes U15s 38-East Grinstead U15s 10
Once regular opponents in the minis years the various league restructures and new formats meant that these two sides had not meet for over two years. Despite East Grinstead being in the lower half of the table they had had some very recent close games and in a reversal of Lewes' recent game Brighton only just beat them by three points in the last play of their encounter, so Sunday promised to be a good contest.
So with this in mind and the coaching team having discussed various aspects of the squad's development and performance this season feeling that Lewes had not quite managed to put is a complete game this season. Coach Ben Green summed it up: "The positives so far have been the forwards having quickly adapted to lifting in the lineouts and being able to use quick ball ‘off the top’ as well and the catch and drive, the defence on our own try line has been a real strength keeping the opposition out by holding the ball up before and over the try line on many occasions and driving the opposition back together with the scrummaging also good, securing our own ball and challenging the opposition for theirs.
The main area for development has been the ruck/breakdown both in attack and defence with players either too late to or even when at the breakdown not always adopting the best body position or ‘driving through’ i.e. an initial shove then stopping, resulting in poor quality ball for the backs or at worst being ‘ counter rucked’ i.e. driven backwards off our own attacking ball once initially secured. The backs whilst still displaying their abundance of pace have at times sought to try and created opportunities from first phase possession rather than running in down the line and running through a few phases to stretch the defence before seeking to exploit gaps."
So, on Sunday the coaches challenged the squad to not focus on scoring but to ‘control’ the game better by adopting the work done at training over the last few weeks. Part of this was to use the forwards to punch around the sides of the breakdown in ‘pods’ once, twice or even three or four times before spreading the balls out wide to run through the phases and stretch the East Grinstead defence, win better ball at the breakdowns, use the ball better and allow the tries to come as a result.
Having said all that it was the away side that started the stronger with most of the possession and camped in Lewes half for the first five to 10 minutes recycling the ball well themselves, spreading the ball out wide and putting pressure on the Lewes defence. It looked like it was going to be another close and nervy game for the Lewes coaches and spectators.
However the home side managed the first scores against the run of play, a solid Lewes scrum on the Lewes 22 was shipped out by Marcus Faulkner to fly half Ben Goode who, following a half dummy, saw a gap and sliced through the East Grinstead backline before some nifty footwork on the remaining defender and sprinting to the try line.
Another try quickly followed with Lewes recovering the ball from the kick-off and driving forward resulting in East Grinstead infringing at the breakdown. The ensuing penalty on Lewes’ 10 yard line was run up by the forwards four times in pods before the backs were released to exploit the stretched defence and Ollie Simonetti touched down in the corner. The fourth try was a well-executed lineout with an ‘off the top ball’ being run down the back line to one wing before being recycled then run back the opposite way with a nice finish from the other wing George Cade.
Green summarised saying "the lads and coaching team were extremely pleased as we played to the plan and got a better result because of it. On the down side both the first and second half saw the home side on the wrong side of a high penalty count and let East Grinstead back into the second half whether through compliancy having dominated most of the 1st half and thinking the game was won or fatigue not sure but something to look at."
Eastbourne U16s 24-Lewes U16s 21
Lewes Colts 7-Worthing Colts 61
Updated 19:02 - 20 Nov 2017 by Peter Barron
Lewes Colts were hampered by a number of absences, injuries and illnesses, including two at the last minute, meaning they only had 12 fit and available players and could only field a scrum, normally one of their strengths, in the uncontested format. Worthing were sportingly generous in lending Lewes three players in rotation, one of whom scored Lewes' only try, Dan Billin scoring the conversion. The hosts had difficulty organising their defence with many players out of position but there were some good driving attack runs, particularly from Jamie Austen, Harvey Joy, Sam Crichton and Theo Wrench. Head Coach Pete Barron said: "There are plenty more games coming up and the 20-strong squad will soon all be fit and available to show in games the progress they are making in training."