However this was a game of two half's with the Lions having the upper hand in the first half with the majority of the play in the East Grinstead’s half. Unfortunately during the closing stages of the first half three players were injured, and had to sub players from the 3rd’s. This changed the dynamics of the team. East Grinstead was able to bring on a number of replacements at the break that proved too much against the Lions.
East Grinstead opened the game with a strong attack from the kick off but were held up at our line by a strong defence with the Lions counter attacking from a well worked scrum. A box kick allowed our centres (Jonny Goward & Jamie Gibbs) to put pressure on East Grinstead driving them back into their 22, however East Grinstead counter attacked from a scrum and despite some massive tackles from the Lions East Grinstead crossed our line to open the score with a converted try (their only score in this half). From the restart the Lions put East Grinstead under serious pressure with quick hands, and powerful running lines threatening their line whenever we had possession. Unfortunately Horsham were not always able to finish off, the first try came after quick ball from a ruck just outside East Grinstead’s 22, and dynamic rucking and quick hands got the ball out to Lions 13 (Jamie Gibbs) who run a powerful line and broke a number of tackles to cross the line and opened up the Lions score. From the restart East Grinstead counter attacked but with a well organised defence and powerful tackling East Grinstead could not gain momentum with the Lions counter attacking, it was in one of the counter attacks, Jamie Gibbs took a big hit to his ribs causing him to be replaced by Neal Holden. East Grinstead found it hard to live with Holden’s powerful lines of running, and he scored the Lions second try (converted by Jake Gates) straight from the scrum to restart of the game after replacing Gibbs. The team continued to block all East Grinstead’s attacks, and at every opportunity for the remainder of the first half the Lions counter attacked.
The second half opened with a try from the restart by East Grinstead on a ruck. The Lions lost the third player prop Kyle Fairs and again borrowed a replacement from the Third’s. Fubar had just been replaced by the 3’s for a rest! East Grinstead could not break our line through direct running, and brought on a number of replacements with a change of tactic, by kicking over us and sending their fresh runners changed the nature of the game to their favour. This exposed a further weakness In the Lions set up, it is from this tactic that all their points came from. Although we continued to defend and counter attack East Grinstead identified the Lions weakness, by kicking over our defence line at every opportunity into the poorly defended area. Despite being on the back foot the Lions never gave up and kept attacking and defending, looking for a scoring opportunity.
The score line did not reflect the Lions performance, the first half was an outstanding performance, if the team played the full 80 minutes there would be few teams in the league to match this. The match was characterised by a dynamic defence, big hits, powerful running, and a powerful pack that functioned well in all aspects on the game. Special note should be made of Ben Beach who was on the bench for the 3’s and ended playing three quarters of the Lions match having never played at this level before and he acquitted himself well, being voted man of the match by the senior Lions players.