RUGBY: Hellingly 7 Crawley 32: Crawley crowned champions of Sussex

Crawley Rugby Club celebrate winning the Sussex League.
Crawley Rugby Club celebrate winning the Sussex League.

After the disappointing performance the week before, Crawley travelled to Hellingly on Saturday looking for the win that would crown them champions of Sussex 1 and secure a return to the London leagues for the first time in six seasons.

Hampered by a couple of injuries but off the back of solid week's preparations the squad arrived in good spirits and confident mood.

In near perfect conditions the game began in what has become a typical Crawley start – a score within a few minutes.

On this occasion, a try from Andy Turner, returning to the first team after a lengthy absence benefiting from a strong scrum close to the Hellingly line and gathering to drive over from short-range.

Despite the missed conversion, the nerves had been settled and Crawley began to control territory and possession and exert good pressure on their hosts.

Hellingly, still keen to spoil the party applied pressure and this resulted in scrum half Steve Wilson being shown a yellow card on nine minutes for infringement at the breakdown close to the Crawley line.

Exploiting their man advantage, the home side scored immediately after and led 7–5 with the successful kick.

The Crawley pack, soon started to dominate their opposite numbers and regained the lead in the 18th minute when following a line-out close to the Hellingly try line the maul exerted unstoppable power to cross the line.

At the scrum, Crawley was as strong as they had been all season and this set piece dominance allowed them to control the game and build a commanding lead.

Fly half, Kris Dean crossed the line in the 33rd minute after another driving line-out the ball was moved out and ghosting through the gaps created by the pressure he went in under the post to extend the lead to 17–7, going into the half-time break.

The second half started with veteran full-back Andy Evans extending the lead with a penalty from 35 metres.

The tenacity and intensity of the Crawley defence started to take its toll and on 11 minutes second row Luke Attew was replaced following a heavy tackle to stop another Hellingly attack.

Two further tries; the first from wing Andy Gardiner the second from centre Sam Musgrove, extended the lead to 32–7, with seven minutes remaining.

Maintaining the effort and determination shown throughout the game, the final minutes saw Crawley in control and dominating set-piece.

On the final whistle the travelling supporters and players shared in the celebration.

Head coach Mal Chumbley said: “This league win and promotion was a club effort and everyone involved in the day to day running of the club, the coaching and medical team and club management should take credit for this achievement and whilst enjoying the celebration, was mindful that the final game of the season at home to Burgess Hill would prove a tough final hurdle but one that the team were looking forward to and confident in signing off the season with a win for the home crowd.”

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