Winning start to life in London 3 South East for Pulborough

Horsham v Pulborough Rugby SR1726057 - Frazer Oliphant-Hope. Pic Steve Robards SUS-171228-105917001
Horsham v Pulborough Rugby SR1726057 - Frazer Oliphant-Hope. Pic Steve Robards SUS-171228-105917001

Pulborough got off to a winning start against Lewes as they returned to action and to London 3 South East on Saturday.

After a disappointing season resulted in relegation in their last campaign, there have been a number of changes over the summer.

Frazer Oliphant-Hope has taken over from Simon Burfiend as captain and they have made a number of new additions during the break.

Those seemed to pay off as they secured a 35-31 victory against Lewes in their opening-day fixture.

Accurate play and good running from Lewes combined with some rusty decision making from Pulborough in their own half, saw the visitors take the lead and then score two more mauling tries from unnecessary penalties to lead 19-0 after 20 minutes.

Pulborough began to find their feet, bringing a combination of incisive running and better breakdown structure and tries from Simon Burfiend and Oliphant-Hope, which when converted, left the half-time score at 19-12.

Pulborough started well in the second half and a slightly wayward Lewes clearance from the kick-off saw the ball in the hands of Nick Haynes who scythed through the defence to touch down.

As Lewes began to seemingly tire, Pulborough started making in roads through the midfield with some hard running from the centre pairing of Ollie Burnett and Brad Game along with Joe Serna and Harrison Short from the back row.

Short eventually found himself in space and was soon under the posts for Pulborough’s fourth try of the game, converted successfully by Oliphant-Hope, before two penalties went over to take Pulborough’s lead to 30-19.

Oscar Grevall saw yellow for a dangerous tackle and the away team rallied, further boosted when Charles Barrow collapsed over the ruck, and the referee was left with no option but another yellow.

The 13 men of Pulborough defended admirably but were left predictably short on the outside, allowing for Lewes to dot down in the corner to bring the score to 30-24. However, a good crossfield kick from a penalty was caught at the other end by Burnett, who restored the 11-point cushion.

Lewes came back strongly again though, leading to a very good try to bring the match to a nail-biting 35-31 although the hosts held out.

Pulborough head coach Clay Saunders said: “It was a rusty first-up performance, but it was to be expected. There were three new faces in the pack, Connor Leeding, Dom Herron, and Joe Serna and they all did themselves proud, and will be big assets to our forward pack.

“The word for the day from me was, resilience. As we were 19-0 down after 20 minutes. We lost our full-back (Haynes) to a dislocated shoulder, and our fly-half (Oliphant-Hope) to cramp. We also had two yellow cards, and played six minutes of the game with only 13 players.

“That one now gets a line through it, and we move onto new boys, Hellingly. Which with 11 players from Saturday’s game unavailable, it will certainly test the depth we have at the club.”

Pulborough: Dicks, Leeding, Falk, Goring, Herron, Caddick, Serna, Short, Atkins, Oliphant-Hope, Grevall, Game, Burnett, Burfiend, Haynes, Denman, Leddra, Barrow.