Team: James Andrews, Nathan Coward, Jolyon Crook, Jude Harding, Seb Maunder, Tom Sanders, Edith Scott, Josh Stephens, Arron West, Harry Whapshott.
This was a B/Development festival which, as last year, contained some very strong B teams despite having the word Development in it.
The Pumas ended up in a strong group but acquitted themselves well. They showed some strong tackling and running though they found it difficult sometimes to break out despite good attempts from Tom, Seb, Arron and Joe and a couple of stunning runs from Harry W. Jude and Nathan's tackling was tenacious and James did well at full back again. Josh is really coming on in a central position and Edith managed a black eye.
The first game was East Grinstead B. However, we had insider knowledge that there were 3 A team players in their squad. It was a keenly fought game with the Pumas scoring 1st through Tom. The Pumas were defending valiantly but were unable to break out. With the referee seemingly asleep, E Grinstead had 4 in a ruck, ripped the ball and scored without passing. The game finished 1 - 1 with some grumpy Pumas as we felt a bit robbed.
Game 2 saw the Pumas pitched up against a very strong Brighton 2nd team. There was some determined defending but the Pumas could not quite keep Brighton out. A high note was Harry W running most of the pitch but just being nudged in to touch before the try line which was one of the Pumas best chances. There were 3 proud coaches at the end after a bruising encounter holding Brighton to 1 - 0.
Game 3 was against our local rivals Pulborough. A stunning central run from Tom saw the Pumas dominate for a time. With 30 seconds to go, the score stood at 1 - 1 with Pulborough down to 7. We agreed to drop a player and Josh had to go off at the Pumas scrum. Some quick hands saw a winning try and the final whistle. 10 boys, 3 coaches and loads of parents very happy! The score could have been more after another streaking run from Harry W but he just couldn't ground the ball with all the defenders around him.
Game 4 should have been the easiest game but the Pumas were jaded after 3 bruising encounters. Crawley had been thrashed 7 - 1 by East Grinstead who we drew with. The first half saw Crawley go 2 - 0 up. The Pumas woke up in the 2nd half with the re-introduction of Tom who helped Nathan score a quick try. Jude's tackling was inspired but we could not produce that last try to even the score.
A strong showing from our new players was a highlight of this festival. Roll on the Horsham festival!
Team: Isabelle Dunn, Alex Hayter, Thomas Hopkins, Freddie Johnston, Harry Jolly, Jack Marks, Ben Mason, Rhys Merola, Ethan Stoner-Gray, Mason Taylor.
The Tigers team ended up in a relatively weak pool and won all four matches with comfortable 5-0 and 4-0 wins against Hove 2 and Worthing 2 and a very one-sided victory against a novice Crawley 2 side which finished at least 7-0. The only tight match was a somewhat scrappy 3-2 win against Bognor where the team needed a breakaway try from Alex the last play to sneak it.
Although the opposition wasn't always that strong or physical, there was some great team play at times. This was particularly the case in the first match against Hove where the tone was set right at the start with a number of rucks and inter-passing up the field which led to a try - had the coaches purring!
Player of the day for the Tigers was Alex in his very first festival. He showed a good turn of pace and was very confident with ball in hand, floating passes into space for our wide players to run onto.
However, it was good to see all players contributing to some encouraging team performances.