Uckfield 1s 59 v Sheppey 3: Uckfield 1s returned to league action this weekend and welcomed a new look Sheppey side to Hempstead fields. The game had been hyped as a must win for the Acorns as they continue to battle to stay out of a relegation battle.
The first 10 mins was tight with both sides looking to keep the ball and not allow their opponents to have possession for too long. Charlie Buckland kicked the home sides first points of the afternoon through a penalty 3-0. This was quickly nullified by Sheppey’s 10 who kicked a penalty of his own, 3-3.
Uckfield then stepped up the pace and for the first time in a few months they seemed to retain possession well, through fantastic work in the tight areas from Ben Woods, Harry Smith, Stephen Hartfield and Ollie Parke-Gailey . Uckfield piled on the pressure, which forced Sheppey to make a hurried clearance box kick close to their own line. This was charged down thanks to the lightening quick reactions of open side flanker Ryan Gothard, the ball bounced in the Sheppey dead ball area and was pounced on by Hartfield for the first Uckfield try which was expertly kicked by Buckland, 10-3.
It was then the of the Uckfield backs, who went on the attack after a Martin Chappell break, he found winger Lee Evans back on the inside which added more pace to the ball, Evans put the ball wide to Connor Fleming who raced to the line and beat the last defender with a neat inside ball to Gregg Chappell who dived over for his second try of the season, and a try that raised the noise level on a busy Uckfield balcony,15-3. The Sheppey side tried to use the sun to their advantage and kicked the ball back in to the Acorns half regularly, Tom George handled both the kicks and the difficult conditions very well varying his attacks well between kicks, passes and runs,
The second half continued in the same way with Sheppey varying their tactics but often failing to capitalize on their possession. Uckfield however continued to find success in lots of areas, the forwards continued to work hard and the introduction of Adam Palmer and Andrew Elms kept the pace up. Buckland dribbled a grubber kick though close to the Sheppey try line and this was dived on by Greg Chappell for his second try of the day, 22-3. and he struck again soon after to complete his hat trick and leave the score at 29-3 and secure Uckfield’s 4 try bonus point.
Sheppey composed themselves well and went on the attack and would have scored in the corner had it not been for fantastic cover defense from Martin Chappell and Jack Newcomb. . The ball was kicked to touch and from the resulting line out Uckfield stole the ball back and allowed Martin Chappell to make one of his trademark heavy weight, high paced runs that finished with a well taken try, 36-3.. Buckland at this point was replaced as he was struggling with an injured “fitness” tendon! This gave George the opportunity to have a run at fly half and Elms to step into the centers.
Evans was keen to get his hands on the ball and get himself a try and this happened after a brilliant scrummage by from Tom Wilding, Palmer and Woods assisted by Hartfield and Parke-Gailey allowed Caket to pick and go before feeding to Evans who raced over, 41-3. He then crossed the line again soon after, when some slick inter-passing allowed him to cut back inside and receive an excellent pass from Elms to cross by the posts, 47-3.
Greg Chappell had been quite for a while but was soon in action again and crossed for his fourth try of the match! This left the score at 52-3. Sheppey however did not give up and went on the attack again, they got the ball wide; however, it was intercepted by Fleming, who rushed away to score an energy-sapping try from a long way out, 59-3. Which was the final score of the day, and interestingly was the highest score of the league this weekend and was also the highest score in the 3 leagues above!
Uckfield had been talking about an 80 min performance and they produced it today. They played well to a man and reaped the rewards. They MUST however, continue this for the rest of the season to ensure survival. The Acorns travel to Kent next weekend to face the tough task of Folkestone.
Uckfield team- B Woods, H Smith, D Hemsley, S Hartfield, O Parke-Gailey, T Wilding, R Gothard, M Caket, J Newcomb, C Buckland, L Evans, M Chappell, C Fleming, G Chappell, T George, C Bradley, A Palmer, A Elms.