Rampant Rye score 81 points against league leaders

Dave 'Big Smudge' Smith marauding through the Crowborough defence during Rye Rugby Club's 81-24 victory. Picture courtesy Tom Pierce
Dave 'Big Smudge' Smith marauding through the Crowborough defence during Rye Rugby Club's 81-24 victory. Picture courtesy Tom Pierce

Rye Rugby Club returned to winning ways with an emphatic victory over table-topping Crowborough seconds.

The New Roaders scored 13 tries during an 81-24 win at home to the Sussex Division Three East leaders on Saturday.

Crowborough’s usual large and strong squad was depleted overnight by a sickness bug, leaving them with only 13 players fit enough to travel.

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Rye were happy to lend the opposition a couple of players to ensure the match kicked-off with 15 players on both sides.

It didn’t take long, however, for Rye to make inroads. After collecting the kick-off and advancing up the left, they worked the ball wide to Ben Hassall, who scored in the right-hand corner.

Rye’s dominance continued with two more quick tries from debutant Sam Ray and inside centre Richard Turk. Jackson Harvey converted one of them to make the score 17-0.

Crowborough strung some phases of play together and by putting full-back Harvey under pressure, they charged down the kick to score a try.

Rye went over for three further tries in a first half that ended 39-19. Ray got his second, tantalising new prospect at number 10 Liam Booth broke through the Crowborough defence to set up Alex Turner on the line and “Really Big” Tom Lucke crashed over under the posts. Harvey headed in at half time with a 50% success rate with the boot.

Crowborough snatched two more tries before the break with their only two clearcut chances.

Kicking into ‘the shed’, Rye started the second half in much the same vein as they finished the first. Relentless work in the loose by Dale Wilson was rewarded with an outstanding try, as was the superior mobility of Rye hooker Dean “The Fox” Blackford, who evaded Crowborough’s sprightly backs and scored by the posts.

Harvey and Will Nunn scored to put the outcome beyond doubt. Crowborough applied pressure for sustained periods in the last quarter, finally scoring a try to make the score 67-24.

Their joy was short-lived, though, as man of the match Ray collected the ball at the back of a Rye scrum on the halfway line and jinked his way through the opposition defence to score a brilliant individual try under the posts.

Credit for this piece of brilliance - and much of the game’s magic - must go to the Rye scrum, which was dominant all day and provided a stable platform for the rest of the team to terrorise the visiting defence.

Dan Harvey put the game to bed in the dying minutes with Rye’s seventh forwards’ try of the afternoon, rich rewards for a faultless pack effort. Jackson Harvey improved his kicking success rate to 61%.

Rye captain Alex Turner said: “The last time Crowborough came here, they put 77 points on us, so obviously we had a few scores to settle. The lads were clinical and energetic, and we probably left a few more points out on the park.

“Massive credit and respect must go to Crowborough for travelling light. We’ve been in that position many a time and know how it feels on that drive home.

“Thanks must also go to Rye players Calfyn and Paul, who played 80 minutes for Crowborough today. They were fantastic and never complained, both getting plenty of the ball and even playing in new positions. That’s what rugby is all about and thanks to their sacrifice, 30 guys got a game of rugby.”

Rye will travel to East Grinstead seconds this coming Saturday in a rearranged fixture.