On an un-seasonally warm day, the BHRFC U18s Colts headed onto the field to face Lewes RFC in their first league match of the season.
In front of a strong home supporting crowd at Poveys Close, they were hoping for a repeat of last year’s result, when they narrowly secured victory against the same side.
As the whistle blew to start the game, Hill kicked off and the ball was sent hurling into the opposition’s 22 where it was cleanly taken and swiftly carried back into Hill’s half. A passage of ferocious play ensued with rucking and counter rucking from both sides until shortly after ten minutes, Hill centre Rhys Clarke managed to break through the line and run the ball home to touchdown for the first try of the match. Unfortunately Hill were unable to convert this try with a kick, but were happy to take first blood at 5 - 0.
Lewes came back hard however and seemed to have found a new level of intensity catching Hill on the back-foot, and just five minutes later the powerful Lewes number 8 managed to bag a try which they successfully converted. This seemed to really take the wind out of Hill’s sails and they just couldn’t find their form leading to the opposition encroaching right up to the home side’s 5 metre line for a scrum. Lewes won the ball and set up a driving maul which Hill struggled to hold up and the ball was edged over the try line for another score, which was again converted. With just 5 minutes to go before the end of the first half, Hill conceded a silly penalty through players going straight off their feet in a ruck, and Lewes opted to go for goal. The Lewes fly-half stepped up and drilled the ball straight between the posts, chalking up another 3 points. Half time, and Hill were down 5 – 17.
At half time the Hill players listened to the advice from team coach Jon Hopkins who also took the opportunity to make a few strategic position changes. As Lewes kicked off for the second half, Hill seemed to have re-lit the fire, and just minutes in bagged two more trys. The first coming from #7 Flanker Joe Turner, who ran end to end knocking down several Lewes defenders in his quest to score between the posts. Not to be outdone, the Sussex All Blacks #6 Flanker Owain Mcloughlin also smashed his way through to chalk up the second score of the half. So with both of these converted, Hill were now slightly ahead by 2 points at 19 – 17.
Determined not to rest on their laurels, Hill kept the pressure on and at 24 minutes into the second half, prop Luke Darville-Groves punched a hole in the enemy line allowing Rhys Clarke to take advantage, racing through for Hill’s 4th score of the match. Lewes however weren’t done yet, and somehow managed to score a third, again coming from a sloppy passage of play by Hill and a further conceded penalty. Lewes, feeling the pressure at this stage were unable to convert this time so with just five minutes left to play the score was teetering at 24 – 22. The home team were back ahead by 2 points, but it could still go either way.
Hill dug in deep for the final passage of play and showed real determination not to concede any further points. Lewes seemed to have slowed down and accepted defeat, allowing Rhys Clarke enough space to sneak across the line once more for a hat-trick, then converting this himself. At the Final whistle, Hill 31 – Lewes 22.
After the match the referee congratulated both teams on their level of sportsmanship and fair play.