Crowborough II 62
St Leonards Cinque Ports 26
St Leonards Cinque Ports came into this game facing a very different Crowborough XV to the one they had beaten convincingly last season.
A youthful and well organised team faced the Ports and in the early exchanges Ports had to be alert.
George Upton made a number of key tackles and jackals, before he picked up a loose kick and sprinted upfield and Luke Barningham was unlucky not to score after Upton’s offload.
Crowborough had dangerous runners though, and it took dogged tackling by Murray Warman and Max Olujobi to cut down dangerous attacks. Josh Storey also made a key tackle close to the line.
Warman won a turnover, and from the proceeding line out and Warman showed real skill to find a gap and go over in the corner.
Crowborough struck back, and took the lead. From the kick-off the dynamic Olujobi chased down the defence. Tom Ingram pressured the half backs and a panicked pass was intercepted by Warman who scored his second. Henry Hill converted.
Joe Whitehill-James coped well with Crowborough’s kicking game and offered a counter attacking option. Despite his powerful work a strong Crowborough scrum brought them level, before they took the lead with another try.
Upton was again a limpet at the breakdown, and his work got Ports upfield before losing the ball. Again Crowborough were intercepted, this time Barningham outrunning the defence to score again. Hill again converted.
Despite this Ports lost their concentration again and Crowborough scored on the stroke of half time to take a lead they would never relinquish. The second half started with a number of Crowborough scores. Mike Hutchins and Hill both used their boot to clear pressure when they could.
Crowborough found greater rhythm, still Upton and Storey put in key tackles and Olujobi chased down every lost cause. With the ball in hand Olujobi was a dangerous runner, his dancing feet confusing tacklers.
Despite Ports best efforts Crowborough ran up a high score, including a penalty after a period of determined Ports defence. Despite this Ports ended brightly, Ports secured some scrum ball, and from this platform worked through the phases. Paul Smart made an audacious chip before Barningham scooped it up and offloaded to Upton. He scored under the posts and Hill converted.
The game ended with another Crowborough score.
Smart in his role as coach captured the nature of the game: “They were the best Crowborough side we’ve played, despite this we were toe-to-toe up to half-time. We ran out of steam in the second half. Overall it was encouraging”.
A number of players performed well, Whitehill-James was a counter attacking presence and strong tackler, Upton was everywhere on the field and Warman worked hard throughout. Despite this Max Olujobi was named E-Heat man of the match for a non-stop performance in attack and defence.
Team 15 Whitehill-James 14 Olujobi 13 Warman 12 Standen 11 L Barningham 10 Hill 9 Hutchins (Smart) 1 Daniels 2 Wright 3 Montier 4 C Barningham (Wan) 5 Storey (Thomas) 6 Whyte (Kearney) 7 Upton 8 Ingram