On a blustery afternoon at Crowborough RFC on a bone hard pitch the local rivals Chichester and Worthing contested the Sussex U18 cup final in literally a game of two halves.
Worthing seized the early initiative and started confidently taking a 3-0 lead early on in the game, but this was immediately cancelled out as Chichester equalled to score 3-3. However, Worthing responded positively and began to gain some momentum of their own with the forwards driving play gaining valuable ground. This was eventually rewarded when scrum half Will Robinson got behind the Chichester defence and with a great offload to captain Freddie Holmes to crash over and score. Will Sanderson converted 8-3.
Chichester’s response was to go wide and try to stretch the Worthing defence, however it stood firm in the wide channels and in effect was the downfall of this strategy. Two costly errors in handling were punished and initiative went to Worthing as the ball was spilled under pressure. The warning bells were already there when number 8 James Sheppard snaffled the ball and was hauled down just short of the line. The lead was extended when fly half Harrison Sims snatched up another loose ball in his own half and sprinted clear to score a wonderful individual try. Just on the stroke of half time the ball was stripped away in contact and despite some desperate attempts to tackle, wing Marcus Hendry, who evaded them all, sprinted clear to score. Will Sanderson converted 20-3 at the interval.
The second half was a completely different story and was dominated by Chichester; their work rate at the breakdown and lineout caused no end of problems for Worthing. As proved in their semi-final against Horsham ‘Chi’ can come back strongly into a game. This pressure resulted in a yellow card for the Dutch international no. 5 Jaap Van der Vieuten and this proved very costly for Worthing. Firstly from the scrum, the Chichester scrum half broke close to the scrum and touched down by the posts 20-10 and then from a very efficient driving maul at the lineout Chichester again crossed the line as their influential no 7, touched down, conversion added 20-17.
‘Game on!’ Worthing were getting jittery as the penalty count against them grew under pressure, but they hung on gamely. Eventually they managed to gain a little more parity in the match and closed the game out in the last 10 minutes.
A great game by two very good sides and played with no quarter asked or given, an excellent advert for rugby at this level. A big thank you to all the travelling supporters who made the trip to Crowborough.
Coach Andy Turner was pleased to finish the season with the victory and felt it was deserved by the narrowest of margins 3 tries to 2! Ironically neither side could score when playing with the advantage of the slight slope and the howling gale behind them!
Tommy Buck, Jack Dootson, Rhys Litterick, Alex Havers, Jaap Van der Vieuten, Max Newton, Freddie Holmes (Capt), James Sheppard, Will Robinson, Harrison Sims, Marcus Hendry, Myles Bradford, Bram Braver, Will Sanderson, Will Beer, James Porteous, Max Ravaudet, Callum Erskine, Luke Turner, Jacob Orbell, Finn Holloway-Hudson, Charlie Spencer.
For the majority of the Colts squad, the final was their last game as junior members of Worthing Rugby Club It has been a fantastic squad effort throughout the season and congratulations to all members who represented the club in the last eight months. The coaching team of Andy Turner, Jon Forest and Simon Gaynor have worked hard to prepare the boys for senior rugby. We wish the players well with their new pathways next season. Special thanks to Clare McDonnell, Manager, who has been superb at keeping both the coaching team and players organised this year. The Colts are also reliant on other parent helpers to support the team. Thank you to Sheila Luke, Nicki Turner (first aiders), Andy Porteous (video) Phil & Jo Havers (photos & match reports), to Dave & Mary Rowley (transport), Paul Hudson (running the line) and to everyone else for their support and continued commitment. Good luck to the next generation of Colts. We wish you the very best for next season.