The first contact festival is always going to be a worrying time for coaches, parents and not least the children themselves. All the drills and practice can only go so far in preparing you for the real thing. So it was with a few nerves we set out for Crawley. Thankfully the rain that threatened eased away and the kids set about their group which contained a Haywards Heath Lions, Burgess Hill and the hosts Crawley.
First up were Heath, not the easiest start but I thought today would be the day we would finally put them away. Unfortunately the touchline and a little lack of self belief saw us fall to 4-0 scoreline. This I felt didn't really reflect the game an I think it's only a matter of time before we get one over them.
Next up were Burgess Hill, the Dragons were now in their stride and emphatically dispatched the Sussex All Blacks 8-2. A stand out hatrick from Toby Elliot, two for George Clegg and one each for Harvey Brock and Max Vallis had the team champing at the bit for the next game.
Crawley were next and with belief and confidence high. The defensive side of the game was outstanding with Kai Ockenden, Will Fenwick and Matilda Bellinger all doing the club and parents proud. Final score 4-2. George Clegg, Harvey Brock and Max Vallis (2) all on the score sheet.
This result ensured Horsham finished 2nd in their group and put them into the silver competition semi-final against Brighton. A large delay seemed to unsettle the team and this slow start saw them give away a couple of uncharacteristic soft tries. Gustav Madam made inroads with some strong running, George Clegg and Max Vallis chipped in with tries but they left themselves with too much to do and lost 4-2. Some big lessons were learnt in that game with some unsporting behaviour going unpunished but again I was very proud with the way the team conducted itself in light of the incidents,
The final game we played was a play-off with Pulborough, this was good spirited game and made my day with the kids deciding they would Conga both on and off pitch. This was won 4-2 by Horsham with two tries from the dummy master Harvey Brock, Toby Elliot and a well deserved score for Kai Ockenden.
A great team effort on the day and all the kids made valuable contributions. Among the names already mentioned Henry Waldman Brown continues to thrive and makes contributions everywhere and Ben White's no nonsense approach provides some telling directness to the team.
Crawley also provided us with a trophy to give to our best player. This was a really tough decision, Kai Ockenden's desire and verve along with one of the tackles of the day. Harvey was dazzling everyone with dummy passes even when there was no one to pass to. In the end we awarded Toby Elliot with the MOTM. This was due not only to his commitment on the day but his attitude, work rate and will to learn demonstrated in the build up.
Next up Chichester, where the rest of the squad will get their chance to show what they can do. If it's like this weekend, I can't wait.