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Brighton were clearly up for revenge after being turned over last year by us in the league and they set off at a cracking pace and had scored within five minutes. You know it’s going to be a bad day when the little things go against you from early on. Brighton chip over, Anthony collects the ball over the Worthing try line and touches down for the 22. But he is deemed to have carried over and Brighton get the five meter scrum. However, Josh takes it against the head and then Brighton are penalised (I have no idea for what) and Worthing clear. So it’s all fair in the end.
However, it is a temporary reprieve because Brighton attack from their own not straight line-out and after valiant defence from Worthing they burst through to score again after 16 minutes. But Worthing begin to realise that they are not being blasted away after all, and even giving away so much weight and height in the forwards Worthing are technically strong in the loose. They can bring Brighton’s driving mauls down with relative ease. Worthing are consistently popping the pressure of Brighton attacks by turning over ball, and in particular Josh, David, Jack W and Rhys. I counted at least fifteen turnovers won by Worthing by some Neil Back-ian doggedness and Josh and David made ten of them between them - with Jack W and Rhys ably supporting.
All good things have to come to an end, and as we hoped to turn round only 14-0 at the break and then use the wind to our advantage in the second half, Brighton score again after 30 minutes against the run of play and it is 21-0 to Brighton. Unfortunately Worthing gift a soft try on the stroke of half time too so it is 28-0. And the frustrating part is that it shouldn’t have been 28-0 as we gave them a virtual free run on three of their tries. That said, Brighton played the conditions very well and deserved the lead from their confident and ambitious play.
The second half sees Worthing continue to panic on the ball, make silly little errors and handling errors. We had blown two gilded chances in the first half. One with a very poor final pass and one with an unpressurised knock on. Our gameplay went downhill and thinking had dried up.
The difference between the top three inches is illustrated thus: Worthing win a free kick seven meters out from Brighton’s try line, just outside their right hand post. A Brighton player steps deliberately over the try line and ties up his boot lace - very, very, very slowly - until all his backs are lined up in defence. When the free kick was given Brighton had nobody outside their left hand upright. We had six players waiting for the ball. But the referee stopped the game for the lace (he got confused over age group rules I was told by a smiling Brighton parent). Whereas we, when we had a won a free kick seven meters from our line, take a quick tap with a knee rather than the foot, instead of using the wind to blast the ball 50 meters up the touchline. Our front of line-out work from Goose had been great all game and he had won three or four of the Brighton throws, so it didn’t matter that Brighton would have had the line-out on their ten meter line, we could have still attacked it. Instead Brighton get the scrum for using the knee to tap, the pressure is back on us, and they score. Top three inches.
And the little things continued to go against us - but I am sure that Brighton could say the same as they seemed to have penalties given against them for stuff that I just couldn’t either see or understand. Sometimes it isn’t the top three inches, sometimes you just get unlucky. Brighton are attacking and are inside our 22, Worthing turn over ball yet again (again David and Josh) but the referee calls out to the spectators to ask if it was a squeeze ball. Yes, comes back the cry from one and so a penalty is given to Brighton. Some of the other Brighton parents and coaches even say that it wasn’t a squeezeball but the penalty has already been given. Even the match reporter (unbiased as I am) calls out to say that it wasn’t a squeezeball to the player concerned (not to the referee I hasten to add!) as he was clearly on his feet. But Brighton take advantage, and they score again. So rather than us being able to clear our line we are yet another seven points down. I don’t mind gamesmanship from players on the pitch (I actually admire it) but I do abhor it from the very few spectators/parents or coaches who do it. You’re not playing and you’re not reffing - so shut up unless you have something positive or useful to say.
However, it has taken Brighton nearly twenty minutes to breach Worthing’s defences again because they have more resolve. Unfortunately other tries then quickly follow as their resolve crumbles and they hold on for pride and pride alone.
The final score was 47-0 to Brighton, and Brighton thoroughly deserved to win. Worthing didn’t deserve to lose so badly but nevertheless Brighton used the conditions, the weight and height advantage, and their superior top three inches to play with confidence and score tries. The record books will still show a 47-0 defeat.
The good points about Worthing’s game were the excellent cover and last ditch tackling - the commitment in those situations couldn’t be faulted or criticised. The line-out worked well in very windy conditions and Goose also took a number of opposition throws. Rhys S and Joe did particularly well against a strong front row, and Jack L harried and carried well throughout. Rhys T and Jack W covered the ground exceptionally well, and Josh and David stole ball almost at will with some real dog-work. And apart from switching to an eight man attack rather than using two pods the Worthing pack played very well as a defensive unit and brought down a number of Brighton’s driving mauls that you would have expected them to batter their way through with.
Another observation of the confidence that we had: One of our players has a particular ‘tell’ when things are going well. I saw it only once during a brief five minute spell midway through the second half. I haven’t made him anonymous because I am being critical – far from it – but I just don’t want other team’s coaches to learn and pick up from it!
There is a lot for Worthing to learn from this game, and they have to think very carefully about the league matches that they both need and want to win this season – probably their final one together as a team. Rugby is as life: It’s not the mistakes that you make that you are judged on – it is how you learn from them that counts. And on that home-spun philosophical note I’m off to watch The Waltons. Goodnight all.
Team: Joe, Josh, Rhys S, Jack L, Goose, Jack W, David, Rhys T, Eliot, Ryan, Dayle, Hywel, Anthony, Beto, Jacob.
Subs: Connor, William, Barnaby, SWD.
Injured but supporting: Liam, Jake, Hilda.