RUGBY: Crawley impress but cannot beat league leaders

Crawley Rugby Club's Dean Riley in action against Eastbourne. 'Pic: John Waltonj SUS-151002-115150002
Crawley Rugby Club's Dean Riley in action against Eastbourne. 'Pic: John Waltonj SUS-151002-115150002

Crawley showed great determination and hard work but could not overcome league leaders Eastbourne who beat them 10-0.

Taking on the table-toppers was never going to be an easy task, but still on a high from last week’s successes throughout club the atmosphere was very positive.

With some last minute dropouts to contend with home side took to the field and played the first ten minutes in the visitors half.

With neither side giving any quarter the first half saw some ferocious tackles and some dogged defence from both teams.

Rob Gilliat returned to form and working well alongside second row partner Chris Barnes with his first starting appearance in the side.

Neither side was making any impression on the other and with no score by the halftime whistle the league leaders knew they were in a battle.

On the restart Crawley made headway towards the visitors’ lines but with the continued strong defence came away pointless.

Ten minutes into the half, Eastbourne turned the ball over from a midfield position and made the most of what was probably their first scoring opportunity of the game and went into the corner to break the deadlock.

The game now continued as the first half with neither side allowing the other to penetrate the defensive lines.

An injury in the Crawley pack coincided with a visitor scrum, just five metres out and making the most of the home reshuffle Eastbourne worked hard to drive the scrum over the line for what would be a second score.

But some clever work by scrum half Andy Evans and the ever present Kieron Gosling led to their attempt being denied as the number eight cleared up and broke from the line relieving the pressure from the home side.

Two opportunities to build tries were missed by the home side as the clock ate into the playing time.

The visitors continually kicked deep to the Crawley end to try and negate the Crawley advances and from one such visit forced an error and were able to make the most of another scoring opportunity into the corner to take their final score to ten points.

The coaching staff are proud of the teams commitment and effort throughout the game, not a man came off with any energy left in the tank, you can ask no more.

Every man played with heart and conviction, something that has been missing on a few occasions this year and yes, some mistakes were made and some decisions could be questioned, but it wasn’t Crawley who lost the match, it was Eastbourne who won it.

Crawley: Theobald, Mansfield, Riley, Barnes, Gilliat, Dean, Morgan-Smith, Gosling, Evans, Cockram, Hewitt, Patto, Keeley, Moffat, Bowen, Thompson.