Bromley were hugely honoured to be able to host the national New Zealand Deaf Team on Wednesday 1st November and provide them with a ‘warm-up’ game prior to their three test matches against their English counterparts.
In the expectation of a large crowd, the ‘great and the good’ of the Rugby and Warman Sports Club pulled out all the stops to prepare the ground to welcome the ‘All Black’ team. On the night, an estimated 800 people turned out to greet the visitors and watch a great game of open rugby. Both teams took to the field accompanied by representatives from the different age groups from the Bromley mini and junior sections; (an experience that will live with these lucky kids for a long time).
The crowd hushed as the Kiwi’s performed their famous haka, the Bromley team linked arms and looked on in silent respect. Winning the toss, skipper for the night, Neil Wardingley chose to play up the slope for the first half. From the very outset it was obvious that both sides were determined to play an open, fast running game and within a matter of minutes Bromley had the first score of the game with a Freddie Bender try, which was unconverted.
The Kiwis bounced straight back and piled the pressure on finally forcing their way over for their opening try, scored by Michael May. James Copeland converted, giving them a slender two point advantage. George Scott, starting the game at fly half, seemed to cover every blade of grass. In attack he was posing real problems to the opposition and in defence he was equally as dominant. On one occasion he turned, gave chase to the Kiwi winger and finally hauled him down just feet from the try line.
Matt Barrie, making his first team debut, was making his presence felt at scrum half and indeed claimed the last try of the half, (Mum and Dad looked on proudly). The versatile Sean Beckett crashed through for the other Bromley try of this half and with the New Zealand team scoring through a Copeland try and conversion Bromley led by 19 points to 17 at the end of the half.
In the second half, Bromley were simply quite magnificent. Never having hosted a floodlit match before and probably for the most part never played in one, the players simply rose to the occasion. Tries followed throughout the half to Freddie Bender, Ian Gauld, Lewis Carter, Jack Wardingley and Sean Beckett.
The forwards managed to ‘better’ their opposition in most elements of the game and particular mention should go to the sterling work by Charlie White, Jake Moore, John Leverett, Josh Cross, Bobby Brown and John Wright.
George Scott continued to ghost his way through the All Black team providing the opportunities for the wingers to run clear. The last try of the match was the most memorable. Defending our own try line the ball fell to Scott who made a few yards before kicking the ball forward. Ian Gauld sprinted through to catch the ball and head, ‘hell for leather’ towards the Kiwi line. A last ditch tackle saw him felled some yards short but as he took the tackle he passed outside to Neil Wardingley who skipped over for the last score of the match to make the final score Bromley 43, the New Zealand Deaf Blacks team 17.
The large crowd showed their appreciation to both sides as they left the field.