Middlesex on a roll in County Championship10 May 2012
Middlesex continued its winning streak in the 2012 County Championship Shield by beating Sussex 19-17 at Crowborough on Saturday 5th May. Middlesex made the long journey to Crowborough to play a nuggety Sussex side who were looking to improve on their narrow loss to Surrey the week before.
The game started with light rain coming down on an already boggy pitch and from the opening exchanges it was evident this was never going to be a day for flowing backs moves.
Sussex started brightly and had Middlesex on the back foot and only stout defence on a couple of occasions around the ruck area prevented the hosts from two early scores. It took Middlesex 9 minutes to break into the Sussex half following a searing break by centre Josh Smith and following a Sussex hand at the ruck Middlesex were awarded a penalty which Smith stepped up and took the points.
Sussex responded immediately scoring a deserved converted try following impressive driving play from the forwards broke through poor Middlesex defence.
With the score 7-3 in favour of the home side, the game became attritional with both packs slugging it out at close quarters and after 21 minutes Middlesex were awarded a penalty after an infringement at a ruck which Smith slotted, leaving Sussex ahead by a point.
Yet again Sussex came straight back at Middlesex and despite missing a relatively simple penalty were awarded for their endeavour with a good try from their right winger whose run to the line was assisted by a couple of missed tackles. The try was converted with the score 14-6 to Sussex and 5 minutes to half time.
Unfortunately for Middlesex a penalty in the last play of the half left the visitors facing a uphill struggle at 17-6 down at the break.
It was the turn of Middlesex to start brightly in the second half with the forwards taking the initiative away from Sussex and following some better phase play Middlesex scored an unconverted try through Hooker Shanahan.
Middlesex continued to turn the screw with the forwards driving hard at Sussex and asking much of the home defence and following a catch and drive at a lineout Middlesex were rewarded with a Tom Cleary try. Smith missed the conversion but Middlesex were now in the ascendancy and smelling victory and after a series of impressive close quarter drives were awarded a match winning penalty which Smith duly converted to give Middlesex a deserved but hard won battle in the Crowborough mud.
This Saturday 12th May, Middlesex host Surrey in the last of the pool matches at Staines RFC, 3pm KO.
15 Jason Lee (Staines), 14 Jon Webber (Staines), 13 George Britton (Bracknell, 12 Josh Smith (Brunel University), 11 Charlie Burman (Staines),
10 Andy Regan (Capt Staines), 9 Dan Ap Dafydd (Bracknell, 1 Stuart Jarvis (HAC), 2 Liam Shanahan (Staines), 3 Matt Freeman (Twickenham),
4 Corne Du Rand (Grasshoppers), 5 James Webb (Bracknell), 6 Kai Blankley (Old Redcliffians), 7 Ryan Campbell (London Irish Amateurs),
8 Tom Cleary (Staines)
16 Lewis Edwards (Uxbridge), 17 Joe Clapson (Bracknell), 18 David Kearsey (Cobham), 19 Jay Uno Unon (Ruislip), 20 Alex Jones (Beckenham)