RUGBY: Crawley struggle to turn dominant play into victory

Haywards Heath (red and black) v Crawley (claret and blue). Pic Steve Robards SR1521883 SUS-150914-105220001
Haywards Heath (red and black) v Crawley (claret and blue). Pic Steve Robards SR1521883 SUS-150914-105220001

Crawley were made to work hard by Midhurst on Saturday for their win in a game they should really have won much more comfortably.

With only a couple of minutes of the game starting a spilled ball by Crawley was snapped up by the home team who grabbed the opportunity with both hands to score.

This meant that with the conversion made Crawley were already seven points down having barely broken sweat.

From the restart Crawley started to exert some control on the game. With both scrum and line-out functioning well.

Midhurst made a nuisance of themselves at the breakdowns making several key turnovers and cleverly killing the ball in others.

There is however only so much pressure that a team can take and with the Crawley scrum completely dominant at this point the chance of three points was turned down by Crawley in favour of a five-metre scrum.

The pack surged forward and number 8 Kieran Gosling calmly touched down at the base as the ball crossed the line.

The game settled back into the same pattern with Crawley enjoying loads of ball but not creating any real chances.

The first half actually ended with Midhurst enjoying a period of pressure in Crawley’s half that resulted in a neatly taken penalty and 10–5 half-time lead.

The second half started messily for both teams before normal service was resumed with Crawley controlling the game with little end reward.

Over and over again the chances were thwarted.

With 10 minutes of the match remaining Crawley mounted another assault at the Midhurst line.

This time they managed to sustain a series of phases that tied up the Midhurst resources and from a close ruck scrum half Tom Darters saw half a yard of space and dived over to level the scores.

It was a huge relief to the supporters but now time was running out for the win.

The score though had the desired effect on Crawley and now no longer having to chase the game, they started to finally play with real structure and control.

Midhurst battled away but with five minutes left Crawley worked through the phases before releasing hard working centre Scott Patto to score a converted try giving Crawley a 17–10 lead and ultimately the win.

It had been a real battle and hopefully lessons will be learned but a win is a win and it was not all bad.

Fly half Cory Toogood demonstrated some neat touches.

In the pack Cian Morgan-Smith continued his great start to the season while Chris Thompson is growing in stature with each game he plays.

With the World Cup final this Saturday, Crawley’s next game is in two week’ and this will be well spent on the training ground ironing out some of the rough edges that showed up in this game.