Rugby is an awful lot like the Ryder Cup, momentum is king and breeds confidence, or a lack of, that can define the outcome of the game.
That was very much the case at Hurstpierpoint College, where Seaford College defeated their hosts 56-8 on the first truly autumnal midweek game of the season, or the first that Fifteen Rugby has been to at least.
Seaford arrived at the game with three wins from three, including a 27-0 win over St Johnâ€™s Leatherhead, whom Hurstpierpoint had lost 24-21 to on their way to a 2/4 win/loss record heading into this game, it was therefore not a surprise that Seaford went home the victors, but the margin was perhaps something of a shock.
It is there that that Ryder Cup style momentum comes into play. Hurstpierpoint took an early lead in the game, a sniping finish following a big driving maul. Seaford hit back with a couple of scores but Hurstpierpoint had pegged them back a bit with a penalty midway through the first half, so far so relatively even. Seaford were on top but it was a game that had the potential to go either way.
Then it came, two Seaford tries within a couple minutes of each other, the last one right on the stroke of half time. It took Seaford from a 14-8 lead to a 28-8 lead in the blink of an eye and sent the teams into the break with very different outlooks to the ones they would have had only minutes before, Seaford were riding the wave of momentum, while Hurstpierpoint were now just kicking for the surface.
That momentum carried across the half time break, Hurstpierpointâ€™s excellent scrum half had been forced off through injury just before half time, which did not help, but even had he been there the opening ten to fifteen minutes of the half would have been there same.
Seaford scored two more tries in that opening fifteen minutes of the half, the first a great finish from the left wing but created by some dazzling play from their outside half, one of a trio of genuinely outstanding Seaford players, the second secured a brace for their barreling and near unstoppable loosehead prop. Both were ably converted by the Seaford full back, who scored twenty points in total, and was simply spectacular from the tee.
As quick as a flash that had turned 28-8 to 42-8 and now a heavy defeat for Hurstpierpoint was the only realistic outcome, that is what momentum allied to skill can do, in a matter of minutes the tide of the course of the game can be changed.
As people will have seen in the Ryder Cup, and as is true in any sport, momentum can be swayed back and forth though, even in a losing battle â€“ it just takes a fighter, and in the Hurstpierpoint hooker, the home side had just the man.
He hustled and bustled his way around the park, carrying hard and tackling harder and gave Hurstpierpoint the confidence to at least keep battling right to the final whistle. Yes, Seaford scored a couple more tries, but with their tails up and their fly half running the show and a barnstorming number 8 making holes for his outside half and his two silky centre colleagues to capitalise on, that was always likely.
Because of the work from their hooker though, and several others including their entire back row in particular, Hurstpierpoint were able to avoid collapse in that final twenty minutes of the second half, and that is something that plenty, if not most, sides would struggle to avoid.
As the score suggests though, Seaford were the deserved victors, that twenty minute period either side of half time defined by how much they won, and they rode that wave of momentum perfectly â€“ when that momentum comes you have to strike and keep striking. In the end though, Hurstpierpoint will feel hard done by that the score got quite so high, Seaford will feel that through clinical play at that crucial time they deserved it to.
Both, in their own way, are correct, and that is perhaps where this rugby match differed from the recent Ryder Cup.
Full Time: Hurstpierpoint College 8-56 Seaford College
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