Berkshire President delighted with first win in 6 years
by David Bolton
The listing was posted by Berkshire County RFU
Result: Berkshire 28 - 20 Sussex. Roy Mears (Berkshire President) was delighted to celebrate Berkshire’s first win in the County Championship since reaching the final at Twickenham 6 years ago and was quick to acknowledge the support of Berkshire clubs and players in achieving this breakthrough. Coming as it does at end of the club league competitions it has been difficult in these past years to get engagement from clubs and players who have been involved in struggles for promotion or relegation after a long hard season of club rugby. This year, the Berkshire squad includes members of level 5 clubs (Bracknell, Maidenhead, Redingensians and Reading) as well as Broadmoor, Tadley and Thatcham. The result was an entertaining and competitive match.
The first few minutes were scrappy as both sides struggled to keep possession. After 8 minutes a preview of things to come was given as a break by Berkshire captain Stewart Mackay followed by some slick passing lead to an opportunity lost when the final pass was spilled with the Sussex defence in shreds. A few minutes later, quick hands by Berkshire in broken play created a try for Ben Yates, which was converted by Jervis Manupenu. After fifteen minutes, Sussex made their first foray into the Berkshire 22 and a Berkshire player was shown a yellow card for not releasing the player tackled. A harsh decision for the first penalty conceded in a Sussex attack. This led to a period of sustained pressure but the Berkshire defence was stubborn and Sussex reward was limited to a dropped goal from full back Rob Jackson. Five minutes later, another penalty was converted by fly half Dave Sweeney to bring Sussex within 1 point at 7 – 6. During this period Sussex scored a try converted by Sweeney. Back to full strength, Berkshire laid siege to the Sussex line and after they were frustrated by a series of penalties conceded by the defenders, the referee eventually lost patience and sent Sussex centre Ross Fairburn to the sin bin. Manupenu missed the subsequent penalty. He did however convert a penalty shortly before the break to leave the score 10 – 13 at half time.
15 minutes after the break Clarke scored a try for Berkshire, which was not converted, followed shortly by a penalty from Manupenu to take Berkshire into an 18 – 13 lead. This was short lived as Sussex bounced back with a try from Giddings converted by Sweeney. Berkshire replied with another try from Clarke. At this stage with less than 10 minutes left on the clock and only 3 points difference, the match was finely balanced and there to be won or lost by either team. With time running out and under pressure in their own 22, a Sussex spilled ball was seized by Berkshire who quickly moved the ball wide for Mackay to cross for the winning score.
Berkshire Cox; Yates; Mackay (Capt.); Manupenu; Williams-Paul; Franklin; Webb; Mirza; Surman; Harvey; Ball; Bailey; Aiono; Lovell; Keeley. Subs. Abbott; Britton; M Clarke; Frost; Brown; W Clarke; Nevins
Sussex Jackson; Hutchinson; Fairburn: Castleton; Evans; Sweeney; Toone; Beckett; Jenkins; Watton; Blount; Parker; Shanahan (Capt.); Harle; B Pohill. Subs. Cooley; Shopland; Strickland; Giddings; Taylor; T Pohill