Dorking Match Report
Vs. Guernsey Raiders – rescheduled
4th February – Rosslyn Park
Dorking 30 – 25 Guernsey
By Scott Richardson
The postponed home game against Guernsey was to be played on 4th February at The Big Field but with ominous weather warnings and flights to book, the decision was taken to move the game to Rosslyn Park’s 3G pitch, and what a pitch it was.
The sun was shining and it was a cool, crisp day. The heavy and bitterly cold platforms that played host to Dorking’s last few games were a distant memory and the buzz in the air was palpable during the warm up as visions of an open, running game ahead saw the guys impatient for kick-off, even though they were missing a number of regular starters due to a combination of injury and scheduling conflicts.
If there has been one consistent gripe directed at Dorking this season, it has been their slow starts to games but today was different. Following a high and hanging kick to start the game, Guernsey put the ball straight into touch, gifting Dorking excellent field position. A solid lineout, which was excellent again all day, led to Mike Terelak eventually making a break down the 13 channel and Ed Carne, stepping in at 10 for the absent captain and regular fly-half, Matt Noble, saw an opportunity to step through the defence himself and put Dorking 7-0 up with less than 5 minutes gone in the game.
Dorking were held try-less for the rest of the half, not for the lack of endeavour. Andy Gardner, in at scrum-half for the injured Zach Woodcock, had an excellent day and when his pinpoint box kick was collected by Tom Hunt after Finn Osbourne picked up where he left off last week with some excellent snaffling work at the breakdown, Guernsey had no option but to give away the penalty and Dorking were 10-0 up.
A Guernsey penalty got them on the scoreboard but there were ominous signs as their monstrous pack smelt blood in the air following a maul from a lineout that rumbled down inside the Dorking 22, forcing Dorking into giving away the penalty. This time, the Raiders chose to take the scrum and manhandle the Dorking pack over the line for the Number 8 to dot down and gain parity on the scoreboard with 10 minutes left in the half.
Penalties were exchanged before Ben Hatton, who was excellent with the boot all game, nailed a final penalty before the half from wide-out on the 10-metre line to put Dorking 16-13 up at half-time.
The second half began with plenty of opportunity but not much execution as promising turnover situations generated from excellent breakdown work from Fred Evans, Finn and Ed Carne were unable to convert into points. That was until Ben Hatton returning from full-back offloaded the ball in the tackle to Carne who then popped it to Terelak who broke the line before stepping the covering defence and putting on the after-burners to go in under the posts and Dorking were 23-13 to the good.
Following a sliced Dorking clearance, the Raiders’ winger had a moment of madness/inspiration in going for a 50-metre drop-goal attempt. As the ball trickled toward the corner flag(!), Hatton saw an opportunity to turn defence into attack but knocked the ball on, giving Guernsey a scrum on Dorking’s own 5-metre line. Dorking held them out, admirably but never regained field position and a few phases later Guernsey’s were over in the corner bringing Guernsey within 3 points.
Dorking’s resolute defence then began to show a little wear and tear from a hard-fought hour or so admirably chopping down Guernsey redwoods and were unable to keep Guernsey out of the corner and, with less than 10 minutes on the clock, Guernsey had their first lead of the game, 23-25.
Some say, Tom Brady thanked Matt Higgins personally for inspiring him towards the Patriots’ epic 4th quarter comeback in the Super Bowl on Sunday night after his exploits at the end of the Guernsey game (needs verification).
Dorking’s own “Mr President”, Matthew Higgins, playing in his first game for almost 2 years and summoning on reserves from a well long-thought dry, found himself with the ball following an excellent break from Michael Davis and Mike Terelak led to some excellent work from the Dorking forwards putting pressure on the Guernsey try-line. Higgins took charge and dotted down under the posts and, with the last kick of the game, Hatton converted to leave the final score Dorking 30 – 25 Guernsey.
Director of Rugby, Armand Roux, had this to say on a thrilling encounter:
“It was a very exciting week for us as we had the chance to give a couple of new faces some game time to see how they get on. I left the ground with a massive smile on my face. It was great to see players like Michael Davis, Tom Dobsom (at 8) and Daragh Chambers (Debut) get some game time.
“I was especially impressed with Daragh and his 13 tackles in 40 minutes and I am looking forward to working with him a bit more on other bits of his game.
“As a DoR I could not be happier after pulling players up from the 2’s and then to get a win against a good Guernsey side. Yes, both sides had a few players missing, but the quality of rugby would suggest otherwise.
“It was also a really nice experience for the guys to play on the artificial pitch, which suited us perfectly and something we should aspire to get at The Big Field, one day.
“There were some great performances all around and one that stands out for me was Mike Terelak. His good season is continuing with some great support play and hunger for the ball in hand.
“Matt Higgins also helped us out this weekend and made a huge defensive contribution, considering he has not played since April 2016. Good to see him get up with ball at end scoring the winning try.
“With lots of players returning this week, selection will be tough before the WP game at home. It’s a really good problem to have and will keep everyone on their toes at training.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these boys. 11 of them have played 2’s and even 3’s for us this year. They stood up to the challenge and played some decent Rugby.”
The next game is at home to Westcombe Park so we look forward to welcoming you all back to The Big Field.
Team: Richard Nunn, James Catton(c), Ben Edwards, Finn Osbourne, Matt Higgins, Jonny Ellis, Michael Davis, Tom Dobson, Andy Gardner(vc), Ed Carne, Cam Osbourne, Ed Marsh, Mike Terelak, Tom Hunt, Ben Hatton, Fred Evans, Daragh Chambers, Killian Wilson