2023 – UPDATED LEAGUE FIXTURESDecember 30, 2022
PRE-MATCH TRIBUTES TO ANDY HILLBURNJanuary 9, 2023
Match report by Gerry Murphy
Counties League 1 Surrey/Sussex
Trinity 0 Hove 27
Before this match, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Andy Hillburn, a stalwart of the Trinity Club who passed away unexpectedly at Christmas.
Trinity had suffered a heavy defeat at the Sussex club earlier in the season when they were well below normal strength. They were therefore hoping for a much better showing with a stronger side available.
Conditions were very difficult with driving rain and a strong gusting wind. Trinity had the advantage of the wind in the first half, but it was Hove who dominated the game. They created several good handling moves but were unable to pierce a solid Trinity defence where Temi Okenla and Ben Vaillant in particular were outstanding. No.8 Farooq Agbalaya carried well and Trinity made occasional efforts to play out of defence, but too many knock-ons denied them territory and they rarely got out of their own half. After 25 minutes Hove launched another flowing move and their handling was impressive in the conditions. They set up what looked like a certain try, but Trinity winger Ty Williams put in a tremendous tackle to force the man about to score to knock the ball forward. Hove came again but the home scrum, which had been unable to gain an advantage up to this point, produced a great drive to win a penalty and inject some heart into the team. The visitors did score eventually on the half hour when they spread the ball left. Full back Liam Sullivan made a fine last-ditch tackle and Agbalaya was able to support him but, after a delay, the referee decided that the Hove man had got across the line and Trinity were 5-0 behind.
Mids now eventually got into the game. A good kick-off gained ground and Williams, with a fine break tore into the Hove 22. For the next 5 minutes they were camped on the visitors’ line but could not penetrate a dour defence and a knock-on gave respite to Hove.
Conditions got even worse in the second half and the wind increased. Hove piled on the pressure and put in some very difficult high kicks which were almost impossible to deal with in the weather. After 50 minutes Mids seemed to have done well to take a line out near their own line but then knocked on and from the ensuing scrum the Hove eight showed real power in driving over. 5 minutes later they scored again when Mids butchered their own line out and allowed a Hove man to catch cleanly and find a gap to score unopposed.
Another try followed 10 minutes later after Vailland had been carded. The Trinity scrum did well to prevent a push over try but the pressure created an opportunity for the scrum half to stroll in and Hove had their bonus point. This time they managed to convert. Trinity did not give up and some strong carries by centre Andy Dean and a turnover by Liam Sullivan gave them some opportunities. One fine handling move took them to the Hove line and a chip through promised a try, but the ball went just over the dead ball line.
Hove had the final word when their rampant scrum created another opportunity for their final try.
Trinity will be looking to do rather better next weekend when they must avoid complacency as they visit struggling neighbours Warlingham.