Crawley made five changes to last weekend’s team. Nathan Cox, Theo Zambellis, and Josh Rodwell all came up from the 2nd XV. Ollie Hall, and Dilip Thayagaraja both came back into the starting side after a week off.
There were also a couple of positional changes with Craig Mansfield moving from prop to back row, and Kris Dean moving from fullback up into flyhalf.
The game was very much won off the back of a strong forward performance. And Crawley prop Mark Stevenson lead the way knocking players over like pins in a bowling alley! Stevenson was well supported by second row pairing of Rob Gilliat and Ollie Hall. Gilliat in particular was very difficult to stop. And time and time again made big carries deep into the Burgess Hill half. With such good front foot ball, it was going to be difficult to stop Crawley’s free running backs.
Kris Dean who was playing his first game at fly half this season controlled the game well. Dean mixed up his attack with a variety of passing, running, and kicking that the Burgess Hill defence didn’t know who or where to defend! Sam Musgrave has been working really hard at improving his game, and this weekend he laid a benchmark down to the rest of the Crawley centres. His offloading game setting up two tries, and earning him the nickname Sammy Bill Williams.
However, as good as the Crawley attack was, they saved their best facet of the game for the last five minutes. Burgess Hill were desperate to even up the try ledger. Which after 75 minutes was 8/1 in favour of the visitors. Burgess Hill were camped on the Crawley five meter line, and were just bombing the try line again and again with their big forward runners. And time and time again the Crawley defence kept them out! There were even a couple of occasions where Burgess Hill were held up over the try line and then pushed back into the field of play. It was a real credit to all the hard work the team have put into their defensive structure over the last three weeks at training.
With such a strong team performance It is hard to single out anyone player. Theo Zambellis scored a great solo try and now has six tries in four games. Nathan Cox played the full 80 minutes up in the front row and dominated his opposite number. Especially at scrum time! And Alex Nabar along with Sam Musgrave are leading the team defensively. Both players very rarely (if ever) missing a tackle! But with his strong ball carrying, two tries, and a broken thumb to boot. Player of the match goes to Mark Stevenson!
Crawley’s new head coach Clayton Saunders said “each week the team is improving. And today was another step up. I am really proud of the way the lads are adapting. Although our performance today doesn’t just belong to the 18 players that played. But rather it belongs to the whole senior squad. We are getting good numbers at training. And due to that, each week selection is difficult. 27 players this season have already played up in the 1st XV. Which means each week good players miss out! But that only strengthens our 2nd XV. And that is exactly where we want to be as a club. I believe a club is only as strong as its quality in depth.”
Try Scorers: Mark Stevenson x 2, Theo Zambellis, Kris Dean, Corey Toogood, Josh Rodwell, Aaron Boczek, Fraser Thompson.
Conversions: Kris Dean 6/8
Team: Nathan Cox, Alex Nabar, Mark Stevenson, Rob Gilliat, Ollie Hall, Craig Mansfield, Adam Blythman, Dominic Morgan, Kris Dean, Dilip Thayagaraja, Sam Musgrave, Fraser Thompson, Theo Zambellis, Josh rodwell, Ollie Plunkett, Aaron Boczek, Corey Toogood
New 2nd team Manager/Coach Sam Tester took the 2nd xv to play Worthing Azurians this was always going to be a difficult encounter.
Crawley 2s showed guts, after finding themselves down 33 points within the first 20 mins, Crawley started to find there composure and rhythm, to end up 47-12. Crawleys man of the match was Mike Cook for his rock solid tackles and leadership.