AFTER several seasons, it was not too surprising that this fixture should follow a familiar pattern and Bromley’s well-trodden game plan.
Arriving with their huge pack Bromley started the match bludgeoning the smaller Crowborough pack, recycling the ball with efficient but predictable pick and drives. The Boro pack, with commendable patience, put bodies on the line, soaking up the pressure and putting in tackles without getting too much meaningful ball. After 20 minutes all Bromley had to show for their efforts was a fourth minute well-struck 30 metre penalty for not releasing the ball carrier, and a visibly tiring pack!
Crowborough’s superior fitness started to gain the upper hand, and the first meaningful backs attack through the new centre pairing of Ed Atkin and Tom Burgess drove deep into the Bromley 22 for the first time set up by controlled forward play. From a line out, Tom Carruthers controlled the bobbling ball and, with the passage to Barker blocked, held onto his intended pass, and in doing so wrong-footed the defence creating the gap for him to score the try that was converted by Jack Barker (7-3).
With Mitch Malherbe off for several stitches to a head wound, Charlie Dagwell took to the field on the left wing and within 30 seconds was putting the ball down in the left corner for the second try. This came from a ruck, out wide on the right that had sucked in the Bromley back row, followed by simple quick finger tip passing that outstripped the cover. The conversion was missed (12-3). Bromley pulled back a further three points with a 40-metre penalty for not retiring 10 metres, a decision that the official mysteriously repeated on several occasions but without further effect on the scoreline (12-6).
With half time approaching, and the Boro pack getting into its stride, the front five were responsible for the next try.
Following a strong backs move that saw Hamish Greenwood body-checked and the second row sin binned, a quick penalty saw the ball spilled with the line begging, then when Burgess crossed the line moments later he was adjudged to have had the ball held up. From the five-metre scrum the tired Bromley pack back-peddled, allowing Tom Noot to pick up at the base of the scrum and record the third try, converted by Jack Barker, taking the half time score to 19-6.
The second half started with another spilled opportunity as Phil Price crossed the line. The drop out was short and Boro took the ball back into the 22 and, once the cover was committed, Goodhew released Barker who drew his opposite number before slinging a cut out pass to Atkin who slipped inside the centre to dive over under the posts, for the fourth and bonus point try, that was converted by Barker (26-6).
With Crowborough at last finding their rhythm, and the Bromley pack breathing hard, Bromley reverted to their well practised tactic of disrupting that rhythm,slowing down play with dubious calls for the physio. Wise to the tactic Boro maintained their patience, and when they next visited the Bromley 22, a collective shove that would have resulted in a pushover try, was pulled down. With the official refusing to listen to calls for a penalty try, the scrum was reset, and Bromley proceeded to pull down the advancing Boro scrum again, only for the referee to agree to award the penalty try this time – one that Barker converted (33-6).
With the clock running down, and to Bromley’s credit, they continued to attack , and with one final flourish tried to put the left wing away with a long looping pass that Greenwood intercepted on his own 10-metre line and cruised 60 metres to put the ball down under the posts. Barker converted taking the final score to 40-6.
With the U11s winning the curtain-raiser against Bromley and a resurgent 3rd XV featuring the revived trio of Nigel Pooley, Ginge Hicks and Dan Martin winning 38-21 against a strong Uckfield, it was a successful day at Steel Cross.