The saxons Vs Eastbourne 2's
By Nick Funnell
A tough game, ends in a 5 - 5 draw
After a disappointing few weeks, the Saxons were eager to get the season back on track with a win and welcomed Eastbourne 2’s to Hellingly. It was clear from the start, this was going to be a tough game, in challenging conditions. The weather was stormy and at times hard there was hard rain, however that did not put us off and we were eager to get onto the field and pay a game of rugby.
Eastbourne won the toss and choose to kick off into wind, which at times were strong. From the start we were under no illusions, that Eastbourne had a very good team with capable players and this was going to be a hard contest, by two similar teams.
During the first half, it was evenly matched, with the scores being 0-0 for some time. The Saxons scrum was dominant with Eastbourne struggling to contain the fantastic Saxons front row, consisting of Russell Higgins, Tomo and Aron Stonell. All three led from the front from the kick off. Due to the weather, a lot of ball was kept within the pack and there were fantastic runs made by Russell Higgins, Aron Stonell and Chris Sands trying to break the defensive line of Eastbourne, however they stood strong and we could not get the ball over for any scores.
After a good Saxons scrum, scrum half Nick Funnell was able to get quick ball to Huw Jones, who has broken through the defensive line to make great yards and was able to pass the ball out though the back line and it looked likely saxons would go in for the score, however Eastbourne were able to tackle and clear the ball away. This was the story of the first half, good break away runs by S Gower, C Sands from the scrums, however Saxons could not quite get the ball over the line.
With 7 minutes left in the first half and the score still 0 – 0, the ball was passed to Aron Stonell, who made an excellent break away run, passing two men, however as Aron got to ten yards of the try line, he was tackled and suffered a serious injury to his leg which later resulted in a break. The game was stopped to allow an ambulance to attend to assist and we wish Aron a speedy recovery, but up to that point, he was fantastic both scrumming and making runs. Aron was substituted for the brilliant Matt Honeyball. On the restart, Saxons had a scrum which resulted with a penalty being awarded to Hellingly. Captain Nick Funnell new that three points would not be enough and took a tap passing it to Matt Honeyball, who ran for the line and four of Eastbourne players could not stop him as he forced himself over the line and scored for the Saxons. 5- 0. Jones missed the conversion and the half time whistle went.
Onto the second half and Eastbourne came out fighting and it felt at times we could not get out of our own 22. There were big tackles going in and the defensive line was fantastic. Simon Bray, Harry Honeyball, Matthew Dawber, Huw Jones, all making fantastic tackles to keep Eastbourne at bay and they could not get through our determined defensive line. Saxons were able to get out and started playing the rugby we wanted to play and enjoyed possession in Eastbourne 22. A messy ball from a scrum, lost by Eastbourne, has somehow gone over the try line, with Nick Funnell trying to get to the ball and touched it down for a try, however this was disallowed and a 22 drop kick was given to Eastbourne no try.
The Support play was an massive improvement from previous games, with Nathan Rainsly, Sam May picking the ball from rucks and making brilliant runs, with support from Stephen Gower and the front row.
The Saxons never gave up and continued to defend against a team running out of ideas on how to score, due to our brilliant defence. Towards the end of the game, for the first time in the game, Eastbourne were able to get the ball out to the winger, however if not for a brilliant last ditch tackle on the line by substitute Jed Owen, Eastbourne would have been in for a try and the game tied.
Last play of the game, Eastbourne had an penalty and have decided to give it to their fantastic number 8 to run, however he never got through, but Eastbourne were able to get quick ball out to the wing, who has then gone over for the score last second of the match, score now 5-5. The kick was missed and the full time whistle went.
As captain, I walk away disappointed we could not hold out for the win, however appreciate at the same time, a draw was a fair result with every single player giving it there all and I could not ask for any more.
There were a number of players in line for the man of the match award, including Natan Rainsly and Sam May, for there fantastic runs made, however as usual Steven Gower was instrumental in gaining Hellingly vital yards getting us out of trouble and making important tackles when needed so was awarded the man of the match.
A mention goes out to new players, Richard Purdie, Jack Meetha and Dan Kibley, who had joined Hellingly and played there first game for us. All made a brilliant impact and looked like they had been playing for the club all year.
Thank you to Eastbourne and we move onto East Grinstead next weekend.