Sheppey 5, Uckfield 22: plenty to be pleased about as Uckfield win

Sheppey RFC

Sheppey RFC

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This was a game as much won by Uckfield as lost by Sheppey.

They will be very pleased with certain elements of the game but will also know they still have plenty on which to work.

Uckfield travelled to north Kent in horrendous weather conditions. The state of the pitch and the wind direction were therefore topics for discussion on the coach travelling to the game. With this in mind Uckfield were pleased to find very little wind and a soggy but good pitch on which to play. The Acorns fielded a side with only one change, with Steve Hartfield reinstated after a disciplinary issue against Thanet two weeks previously.

The first half was a scrappy affair with handling errors aplenty. The referee made it clear to both sides that due to standing water rucks would have to be fast and the ball used quickly. This caused Uckfield to play quicker than they might otherwise have done.

Uckfield led through the boot of Andrew Elms before Sheppey scored their only points of the game. Dominant scrummaging led to the ball being spun wide and the Uckfield line was broken after some shoddy defensive work.

But the Acorns, led by the vocal figure of Matt Evans, were frustrating the host, and when the Sheppey pack took offence to the work of Mark Caket this spilled over and sparked an ugly incident involving numerous players.

This led to the Sheppey No 9 spending 10 minutes in the sin bin, as Elms kicked Uckfield back into the lead at 6-5.

Uckfield started the second half well and appeared to be playing with far more structure than at any time this season. That young fly half Charlie Buckland was playing with an excellent blend of kicking, running and passing certainly helped, notwithstanding the late hits and shoulder charges the Sheppey team were dishing out to him.

As Sheppey became more and more agitated Elms snapped up opportunities to kick for goal and was flawless in the worsening conditions, kicking three successful penalties to put Uckfield 15-5 up going into the final 10 minutes.

The final score came when – following an good move involving Martin Chappell and Lee Evans – Ryan Gothard charged down a Sheppey kick with his face, allowing Evans to scoop the ball up and dive over the line. Elms converted.

Uckfield battle out a local derby against Heathfield in the Sussex Cup tomorrow.