League champions Lewes’ finest season for many a year continued on Saturday as they defeated Crawley in the Sussex Shield semi-final to book their place in next week’s final at Horsham against Bognor, kick off 12noon.
In spite of many changes from last week’s squad, Lewes eventually proved too strong for a resilient Crawley side who made the visitors fight for every scrap of possession and territory.
After an even start to the game, Lewes scored first after ten minutes when a strong move in midfield enabled outside-half Yunshun Luk to pick up the ball and then embark on an amazing zig-zag run through Crawley’s defence to score a great individual try near the posts, which he also converted, to see his side open the lead at 0-7.
But the home side hit back only five minutes later, their left-winger, Mark Fulbrook, scoring an unconverted try in the left corner following a strong attack to narrow the deficit to 5-7, which remained the score at the half-time whistle.
The first quarter of the second half was tense, but Lewes broke the deadlock after 56 minutes with a break-out down the right wing by former Colts player, full-back Dan Wade, who off-loaded the ball just before being tackled to his fellow former Colts colleague, second-row Jack Nayler, for Lewes’ second, but unconverted try, to increase their lead to 5-12.
This advantage became 5-17 only 1 minute later with a fine solo effort by No. 8, Player-Coach Mike Stubbs, the conversion attempt just going wide.
The next play saw Wade yellow-carded for a high tackle, reducing his side to 14 players for the next 10 minutes but this did not stop Lewes’ momentum, as they proceeded to go further ahead at 5-22 with another dazzling run by Luk, avoiding several desperate tackle attempts by Crawely, for a fantastic but unconverted try.
To Crawley’s credit, they kept up their attacking mood and were rewarded with their second try of the match in the dying minutes of the game, forward Barry Theobald surging forward to touch down, with right-winger Alfie Gregson kicking the extras, to make the final score a more respectable 12-22.
Stubbs commented as he left the pitch: “This was a tough game, very stop-start, but we played with a good attitude throughout for a great win to take us through to next week’s final”.
Lewes: Williams, Warren, Raynor, Creed, Nayler, Hatch, Furze, Stubbs, Wood, Luk, Feltham, Halpin (Capt.), Tobin, Durley, Wade. (Reps, all used: Oakford, Horscroft, Gorbell, Johns, Moules, Petty, Templeton).
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