Combe lose a hard fought contest at the Seaside in an even game that could have gone either way.
By Mark Ley
Brighton FC 28-22 Westcombe Park RFC
A warm Spring-like day on the South Coast with barely a breeze - perfect conditions for an open game of rugby – and for once that’s what we got. The teams were evenly matched and both enjoyed periods of dominance. Defences were heroic throughout but both sides tried to play an attractive brand of rugby. Combe went down due to a 10 minute loss of concentration just after half time but rallied strongly at the end to grab a bonus point.
Brighton started the stronger pegging Combe back in their half. However, the Combe defence was resolute repulsing numerous Brighton attacks. Eventually, however, Combe were pinged for not releasing and Brighton kicked the penalty 3-0 after 7 mins.
Combe responded almost immediately. From a line out Combe attacked the Brighton midfield. Brighton killed the ball and Combe kicked to the corner and from a catch and drive James Lindfield
was over. Matt Harrison
converted from wide out 3-7 to Combe after 10 mins. Combe were now firmly back in the contest and were playing well with drives from Reece Conlon
and Dave Pohlen to the fore.
A collapsed scrum on the 20 minute mark resulted in a shoulder injury to Tom Simmons
and the game was stopped for 10 mins for the necessary safety protocols. He was replaced by his brother James Simmons
. From the restart Brighton attacked but Combe turned the ball over, won a penalty and kicked to touch. From the line out Combe spun the ball through the backs, Sammy Atiola broke through the centre and put Harry Sansbury
in for a try in the corner. Matt Harrison
converted from wide out 3-14 to Combe and deservedly so after 25 mins of play.
Brighton hit back immediately after Combe spilt the ball from a poor restart. James Lindfield
was yellow carded for killing the ball and with a man down Combe buckled at scrum time to concede a penalty try 10-14.Over the last 10 mins Brighton upped the ante and only a brilliant try saving tackle from Harry Sansbury
kept Combe ahead, though Brighton narrowed the lead with a penalty late on 13-14 at HT.
The Brighton half time team talk must have been right on the money and they ran out with intent immediately breaking through the Combe defence to score with ease wide out in the corner 14-18. With their tails now up Brighton came again and again and the pressure inevitably told with a second try, this time converted to lead 25-14 after barely 10 mins of the second half.
Combe responded with great spirit and self belief combining hard running with driving mauls. Brighton dug in but got sucked in. The ball went wide again and Harry Sansbury
was in at the corner for his second try, 25-19 and game on.
Penalties were swapped (Matt Harrison
for Combe) 28-22. Now its nip and tuck, end to end – an absorbing contest between two committed teams.
In a final push for victory, Combe threw the kitchen sink at Brighton but try as they may they could not get over the whitewash. The Final Score was Brighton 28 Combe 22.
A break in the League programme next week as the Six Nations resumes. The next league game is on 2nd March when we entertain Tottonians, kick off 2.30. There is a Supporters’ Lunch sponsored by “The Youth” prior to the game (see Denise Jones)
Team: R. Conlon, J. Dehaarte, T.Simmons, C. O’Sullivan, N. Pass, G. Milligan, J.Lindfield, D. Pohlen, B. Smith, M. Harrison, B. Saffery, S. Atiola, S. Beckett, D. Hamilton, H. Sansbury. Subs: J. Simmons, T. Calohard (TiBo), J. Donovan, J. Dennett (Travelling).
Reporter: Franklin Pastry