5 Points and 5 Consecutive wins:
By James Grey
Loonies Burn Bright over East Grinstead RFC, Away from home.
Two terrific halves, four fantastic tries and five bonus points were the rewards for Hellingly RFC’s confident win away at East Grinstead.
A final score line of 18-20 ends East Grinsteads unbeaten campaign and extends Hellingly‘s record to 5 wins from 5, all away from home.
Try scorers David Sands, Matthew Sands, Sam Booth and Man of the Match Matt Blakinston all played their part in ensuring we scored the points needed to win but these names won’t stand out alone in what was a spirited team effort by the remainder of the loonie line up.
East Grinstead looked aggressive from kick off, proving particularly well drilled at re starts, but they quickly lost attacking rights as Hellingly dominated the first 15/20 minutes of the game. From a personal perspective, this period of play was some of the best rugby Hellingly has put together. Runners off 9, Runners of 10 and ball moving into areas where the back three could utilise some space. It is no wonder that we were quick to score 2 fantastic Tries.
The final 20 minutes of the half unfortunately saw Hellingly giving away penalties, allowing the home side to carve their way back into the game. The East Grinstead 10, a key player, would always take his opportunities to grab 3 points, so giving away penalties was always going to cost us. He took his chances and not converting our tries, kept the game within an arms length. It was then before we knew it the final play of the half. A scrum on our own 5 metre line and an opportunity to secure the ball, kick it out and going to the second half winning. Unfortunately, we conceded this scrum and fell off tackles for the East Grinstead 10 to again score more points and run in under the posts.
Half time 11-10 to East Grinstead.
At half time It was clear what the expectations were. We knew this was a game we could win. We took a moment to visualise what it would feel like to lose (Not great). We then took a moment to imagine the feeling walking away winners with 5 points (we always chase 5 points). We knew what decision was to be made, the boys were ready and we knew then that if we worked hard for each other, we could get the result.
The home side started the half well and started to pick up momentum of their own. East Grinstead pressure demanded a defensive demonstration from Loonies, which for the most part we met. However, with Sam Booth off the field with a yellow card and a number of penalties conceded, we did leak more points. Importantly though, we took our opportunities and had scored 2 more tries too.
Lawrence Dalaglio once famously said "The most important thing about winning is believing that you can win no matter what the opposition". Not a truer statement said when reflecting on the last 5 minutes of our game. With the score at 18-20, the game was there for the taking. It would require Patience, courage and this the important ingredient of believing we could win.
Hellingly, with Searle at 9 orchestrating his troops, played a simple pick and go game. Selfless play from supporting players was key here, as losing a breakdown or giving away a penalty would surely see us losing. East Grinstead challenged, the supporters roared and after no less than 6 breakdowns, Searle kicks the ball into touch......... We had done it, the referee had blown his whistle and we had won again away from home.
All acknowledged that this was one of the best runs of matches Hellingly has ever seen. We appreciate that we are leaving points on the field through our kicking game and we can continue to work on this important area off the field but that is part of the excitement. We are winning games through scoring more tries than our opposition. We are winning games when not "perfect". We are building character and becoming a side that demands respect.
The message after the game was clear. Enjoy the occasion, celebrate the evening and continue to believe that we can beat anybody. Ensure we keep our feet on the ground and train hard in preparation for the next game, as the season is long as we still have more games to play.
Our next challenge is Eastbourne, who we play away from home on the 21st October.
Thank you to those that again travelled to support us. Let us keep this momentum going.
Train hard, expect success.
David Sands x 1
Matthew Sands x 1
Matt Blakinston x 1
Sam Booth x 1
MOM: Matt Blakinston
D of the day: James Grey, for needing my old man David Grey to take his socks off and lend them to me, having forgot to pack them.