IN wet and muddy conditions set for a forwards game, Midhurst couldn’t quite rise to the challenge of upsetting high-flying Eastbourne at The Ruins in Sussex division one - losing 19-7.
The game started with scrappy pieces of play which could be put down to the relentless rain.
Soon Midhurst were piling on the pressure and were camped in Eastbourne’s half for the majority of the opening exchanges.
When Eastbourne got a few phases of play together, they showed why they are pushing for promotion with a lovely breakaway try.
Midhurst continued to dominate possession and this paid off on 25 minutes when relentless pressure in the opposition’s 22 finally forced the breakthrough. Dan Hird took the ball and threw a great dummy and sidestep, which created the gap for him to burst through the defensive line and score under the posts.
With the sun coming out, a faster game followed.
Midhurst duly stood up to the challenge of Eastbourne’s big ball carriers and the scores stayed level until half-time.
The second half began like to the first with Midhurst dominating play. Brilliant work in the rucks from George Burdfield saw him named man of the match.
Midhurst’s pressure seemed to have paid off when Matt Warken crossed for a brilliant team try which was set up by the forwards and spread wide from the backs for the young South African to score. However the referee didn’t feel the ball was grounded so the try was disallowed.
Patrick Windle came off injured after putting in a monumental shift. His replacement was Sam Beesley, who had earlier come off because of a shoulder problem.
He made an immediate impact by stealing Eastbourne’s lineout on their five-metre line, but once again Eastbourne’s defence stayed firm.
Eastbourne broke and had their own five-minute spell of pressure in the Midhurst 22 from which they scored a well-worked forwards try. They missed the conversion but led 12-7.
Midhurst were reduced to 14 men with ten minutes left when Beesley’s shoulder popped out.
Eastbourne increased the intensity and crossed the whitewash for a third time and then converted for a 19-7 lead.
Despite the scoreline, Midhurst can hold their heads high - they played a very good game with the scrum and lineouts working well and a very effective backline.