Rye Rugby Club booked its place in the final of a county knockout competition in convincing fashion.
Sussex Intermediate League outfit Rye triumphed 58-17 against League Two East neighbours St Leonards Cinque Ports in a Sussex Plate semi-final on Saturday.
Their reward is a final showdown against St Francis or BSMS (Medics) at Seaford RFC on Saturday April 30.
Rye coach Jeremy Nobbs said: “It was a really good day at the office, fantastic scoreline. The whole performance was generally very good, but we didn’t quite touch the heights of the previous week (when Rye scored 32 points in the first half en route to beating Pulborough II in the league).”
In a match switched to New Road because of problems with Ports’ pitch, Rye made a few silly errors to begin with before gradually putting together some very good passages of play.
Rye took 20 minutes to score their opening try, but ended up going over 10 times in all as the hard work they’ve put in on offloading and supporting the ball carrier paid off handsomely.
Tom Martin, Rory Creavin and Alex Turner scored two tries each, while Matt Cooke, Gregg Phillips, Chris Cordeux and John Smith chipped in with one apiece. Martin also kicked four conversions.
Ports had a very large pack and gave Rye some problems in the scrum. Although Rye managed to win their own ball, it was a bit more pressurised than the other way round.
That said, Rye’s young and comparatively inexperienced front row coped very well, and Rye’s lineout functioned effectively against opposition which worked hard throughout.
Rye dominated possession and territory, and their defensive organisation was good even though Ports scored two well-worked second half tries which their endeavours merited.
The first Ports score came when Rye looked to ship the ball wide, but Murray Warman swooped on the ball for a strong interception try. Luke Barningham, who had earlier kicked a first half penalty, converted well.
A five-metre scrum later rolled Rye back, allowing Chris Perry to score Ports’ second try. Barningham added the conversion, taking him to a new club record of 99 points for the season.
Rye’s man of the match was Andy Brown. Although in rugby terms a senior citizen, Brown was fantastic in the scrum and formidable around the park. George Upton was Ports’ man of the match for a fearless performance in defence.
“The guys played well, but they’re really trying to be better and better each week,” added Nobbs. “They were the first to say it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.”
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