Rye Rugby Club’s hopes of ending the season with some silverware ended in disappointment.
The New Roaders were beaten 33-17 by BSMS (Medics) in the Sussex Plate final at Eastbourne RFC on Saturday.
Rye coach Jeremy Nobbs said: “We were favourites being two leagues above them, but we were quite shocked with the quality of their play, and speed and athleticism of the side, and technical skills. Some of their players were exceptionally good players.”
The damage was done during the opening quarter of the match as the Medics opened up a commanding 19-0 lead with Rye barely touching the ball. A combination of the Medics moving the ball at speed and errors from Rye resulted in the students scoring three early tries, two of which were converted.
Having got over that initial shock, Rye slowly started to get control of the ball. Although Rye were under pressure, they managed to deal the Medics’ attack and a Chris Edwards penalty got them on the scoreboard.
Rye still trailed 19-3 at the break, but the second half was a lot more even, with both teams scoring 14 points after the turnaround.
Now playing down the slight slope, Rye scored their opening try when a period of period of pressure featuring some good backs’ play resulted in Gary Edmunds going over to the left of the posts. Edmunds converted his own score.
The Medics replied with a well-worked converted try, but Rye refused to lie down and came back with their second try. Dave Smith crashed over and although the referee didn’t award the try to him, he instead gave a penalty try, which Edmunds converted to make it 26-17.
Rye were unable to cut through the Medics’ defence, however, with the frequency they have done against other teams during a long unbeaten run which stretched back to mid-January.
The deficit meant that Rye were forced to take risks and play in their own 22. As often happens in such cases, a pass was intercepted and the Medics raced away to score another converted try under the posts.
Rye captain Matt Cooke had a fantastic game, but the whole team worked hard and one thing which was particularly pleasing for the New Roaders was that, as the game wore on, they successfully addressed the issue of their scrum coming under huge pressure.
Although naturally disappointed at the result, Rye can still reflect on a successful season. As well as reaching the plate final, they ended the Sussex Intermediate League campaign with nine straight wins to secure a top three finish.
What’s more, having been unable to field a side for several matches last term, playing numbers have grown to such an extent that Rye intend to field a second team next season.
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