Laud-Anderson scores in final play to secure bonus point victory
By Michael Timms
Level 9 completed!
Saturday 17th of November saw the visit of Haywards Heath to the mighty fortress Balmoral. Previously a hotly contested match-up which has guaranteed good quality rugby. With both teams sharing the best defensive record in the league, Haywards Heath were out to retain their title as giant-killers and Beckenham keen to level up yet again.
Haywards Heath started the game strongly, showing no signs of travel fatigue, captain no.8 Sam Drage leading from the front with a number of strong line-breaks . Beckenham succumbed to early pressure, with an offside offence, which resulted in a penalty being kicked over by opposing fly half Jack Lucas.
This was the wake up call Beckenham needed as they started to get their hands on the ball and asserting early dominance in the scrum. With Beckenham in the ascendancy, an attacking move was caught short, with the Haywards Heath Centre spear tackling centre Louis Richards. Although not intentional, the referee had no choice but to award a red card. Leaving Haywards Heath down to 14 men after 13 minutes. The resulting penalty was knocked over by Louis Richards, breaking 100 points this season. 3-3.
Down to 14, most would think the game would swing in Beckenham's favour, given Beckenham's form at home,but as always Heath made it a tough game for the blue and gold. Haywards Heath rallied and pushed on hard. The remainder of the first half was a cagey test match like affair, with chances missed for both sides. However another Penalty from Louis Richards, left it 6 -3 to Beckenham at half time.
After rallying the troops, Beckenham came out for the second half rejuvenated. Beckenham started quickly. An initial steal by Alex Jones from the Kick off set up a platform for the backs to attack. With the Haywards Heath defence initially penetrated by James Curr, the space allowed Keita Orelaja to break free, who in turn released George Hixson to slide in for the first try of the game. Louis Richards missed the conversion, leaving the score 11-3.
Haywards Heath did not let up and begun to put on some pressure their own. Pouncing upon Beckenham's ill-discipline, Haywards Heath played their way up the pitch well and set up a driving maul 5 meters out from the Beckenham line. Sucking in the defence, winger Matt Ashley, sneakily darted round the narrow blindside to score. The conversion was missed, making it a 3 point game once again. 11-8
Not wanting to be undone by the will of Haywards Heath. Beckeham flicked the switch and started to impose themselves in the game. Good lineout work from Andrew Knowles unleashed the ever-dominant rolling maul. Josh Smith was the lucky beneficiary this time out, who finished well in the corner. 16-8
Next passage of play followed the same pattern as the first half, with each team wrestling for dominance. Fresh blood off the bench for Haywards Heath momentarily swung it in their favour, with replacement debutant Casey Calder knocking over a penalty. However Louis Richards quickly responded, after great work from the front row, winning the penalty. 19-11.
Beckenham began to put the phases together. Strong carries from stalwarts James Cleverly and Alex Jones put Haywards Heath on the back foot. Beckenham now finally dictating the game by controlling it at their own pace. After keeping the ball for several phases, Hans Laud-Anderson sniped from the breakdown to go over in the corner for 24-11 lead.
Hats off to Haywards Heath for their resilience and not going down without a fight. Chasing the losing bonus point, Casey Calder knocksed over a penalty to create an exciting finish. 24-14
As the game wound down into the last few mintutes, excellent play by Louis Richards kept Haywards Heath pinned down in their own in their own 5m. Looking to attack from deep, the line out was overthrown by the number 6 , which fell fortunately into the hands of Hans Laud-Anderson who dived over to score his second and secure the bonus point score with the final play of the game, leaving the score 29-14 at full time.
Tough battle for all, but Beckenham's class eventually shining through. Next Beckenham travel to Horn Park, to face local rivals Old Colfeians, which is sure to be a great game of rugby, given both teams high scoring attack this season. All support would be greatly appreciated.
Man of the match goes to prop Graham Murray! Excellent around the park and destructive at the scrum which put Beckenham on the front foot throughout the second half.