South Africans too hot for Rye


St Francis Crawley 71 vs  Rye 45
Rye Rugby Club travelled to St Francis in Crawley on Saturday April 7 and lost in a 20-try thriller against a well-prepared team, laden with young South African talent.
The day started ominously for Rye when two of their players had to cry off due to work commitments, but 15 men set out for Crawley ready to do battle. However, on the way they lost two more men due to a car breakdown, arriving with only 13. St Francis kindly lent Rye a couple of players, so the game kicked off on time with even sides.
Shortly after kick off though, the skies darkened further for Rye as they were hit by a three-try blitz, from their opponents’ talented South Africans. It looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for the visitors as they struggled to shake off their poor start. However, they started to get into their stride after they secured possession and started to string some attractive phases of play together, putting increasing pressure on the home sides defence. A period of intense pressure was rewarded by winger Lee Harker scoring his debut try for the club on the right wing, which was duly converted by Jackson Harvey.
The rest of the half then followed a pattern of repeated attacks and scores by the home side, with spirited defence and two further converted tries by Matt Cooke and the St Francis winger (playing for Rye) with a fine chip and chase. Harvey converting both of them.
At half time the score was 45-21, with the talk in the Rye camp concentrating on shoring up the  fragile defence and increasing the pressure in attack. St Francis, to their credit, kept on supplying the visitors with players all through the game, so that it stayed a proper contest throughout.
As the second half commenced Rye secured possession and playing their brand of attacking, offloading rugby overwhelmed a sluggish defence to score the opening try with a fine effort by Richard Turk again converted by Harvey. The hosts hit back with their powerful forwards running hard at the Rye defence and their fast backs cutting through to score several more tries.
With such an attritional game, slowly injuries started to increase, with Rye losing Tom Pierce, Harker and Graham Nunn over a period of about 20 minutes. Again, St Francis acted with great sportsmanship in lending players, but as injury hit their side as well, the numbers declined for them also.
By now Rye were showing their hosts what they could do and scored a number of excellent tries including a brace by Harvey, a power run by lock Ben Hassall and a great intercept by Jack Cox. Conversions were made by Cox.
The team showed great spirit in adversity and managed to put together a good performance in defeat scoring 7 tries and kicking 10 points. The backs, well managed by Captain Matt Cooke, got under the skin of the St Francis players and kept Rye in the game with some fine attacking flair. The forwards, including father and son Dan and Jackson Harvey, put in a fine day’s work, producing good set-piece ball and getting through a load of work at the coalface.
The man of the match was Jackson Harvey who was excellent in attack (two tries and three conversions) and a tackling machine in defence.
Rye’s next home game is on Saturday, April 14, against Midhurst, kick off at 3pm.
New players are always welcome, training is on Thursday evenings from 7pm, or contact the coach Jeremy Nobbs 07803 817272 or email
Team: Ceri Ap Bryn, Lee Harker, Tom Martin, Richard Turk, Matt Cooke, Harry Charles, Stephen Cooper, Graham Nunn, Tom Pierce, Ben Hassall, Dan Harvey, Jackson Harvey, Jack Cox.

Photo: Micky Day

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