I have been asked to do a match report for this week until those better qualified manage to get pen to paper.
For late November, the day promised to be perfect for running rugby albeit a slightly chill breeze. It is obviously now Winter as the ‘lunchers’ have come out of the woodwork to enjoy the warmth of the Wates clubroom; the quality of the refreshments; the 3 delicious courses and the friendships over the different eras of club membership. We had 10 there who had been members for over 60 years; we had another 12 who have been members since the 1960’s; we had 3 tables of Downs solicitors and their guests; Andy Webb had a table including the Harlequins Chairman and 3 tables of ‘mature youth’ who are very involved in the Junior sections.
It was a very happy occasion to welcome Tonbridge Juddians – the top team of the league.
A month ago, Hertford came to the Big Field as top of the league and we toppled them off that spot. TJ’s were delighted with our win and it made them wary that under-estimating our capabilities would be an error.
TJ’s kicked off down the slope with a slight breeze at their backs. the exchanges were pretty even until what seemed a well covered move by TJ’s morphed into a clean break through the middle for a touchdown. 0 – 7. Dorking responded well with our pack gaining possession and territory. TJ’s collapsed scrum offered a chance to recoup 3 points, which Matt duly did. 3 – 7. Further possession by Dorking looked dangerous, but a ‘holding on’ decision gave TJ’s another 3 to make it 3 – 10. Dorking had their fair share of possession and attacked with flair, but good defence by TJ’s reduced running options, forcing kicking for position. TJ backs revelled in the extra possession with strong and quick running. Another flailing tackle saw TJ’s execute an excellent movement drawing defence, passing and supporting to create an overlap on the wing. A rather disappointed home touchline, though, had to admire the skills! 3 – 17. Further pressure form Dorking gave a little recompense with TJ’s conceding another kickable chance, duly taken – 6 – 17. Dorking looked strong, but another penalty gave TJ’s a chance to break down the left and with juggling passes almost crossed the line. Fortunately the juggling was deemed not in control and a relieved Dorking went in for half time.
The slope gave our supporters some hope, but TJ’s turned the screw with taking play to our 22 with some powerful forward play. TJ’s camped close to our line but Dorking’s defence held firm for what seemed ages, eventually giving way to a well worked charge for a touch down in the corner. 6 – 22. The possession pendulum swung into TJ’s favour, with Dorking having to defend continuously. A handling error (sometimes that odd shaped ball does bounce very awkwardly) brought TJ back to our 22 and smelling blood and confidence high, forced a penalty 5 metres short in front of the posts. An unstoppable quick tap and a further 7 was notched. 6 – 29. TJ’s were in full swing and although Dorking did get close forcing TJ’s to give a penalty (and took a Yellow) we did not cross the line. TJ’s runners continued with speed and skill which was rewarded with another converted try following a missed tackle 6 – 36. TJ’s now lessened their attacks to sit on a comfortable lead – kicking for position. Ed Carne took a high ball beautifully sprinting through and feeding Mike T for a well-taken score 13 – 36. With time running out, Dorking took over with some excellent play and belief (with the touch-line sages wondering if this could have been possible a little earlier); but TJ’s were now out-thought and played resulting in another open movement giving Mike T his second try. 20 – 36 at the final whistle. One could imagine that without a couple of soft tries, the game could have gone either way; but on the day, TJ’s played the better game with a good all-round performance.
They were very pleasant guests and we look forward to the return fixture in the new year.
In the other senior matches, The A’s enjoyed a fine hard fought 35-30 win over TJ’s 2’s, and the Ex A’s downed Bec Old Boys 2’s 7-21 away.
We travel to Westcilff on Saturday who, although below us in the league, have had some impressive results against strong sides. We will need to pull out all the stops (and continue with our much improved discipline record).
Photographs courtesy of Ben Hardisty – Full gallery available at: http://www.benhardistyimages.co.uk/Rugby/Dorking-RFC/Dorking-v-Tonbridge-Juddians/