Dorking Match Report
Shelford Away 28th January
by Scott Richardson
Hookers are a rare breed these days and the idea of finding one available to make the journey down to Shelford at 9.50am on Saturday morning seemed wildly optimistic at best after Jonny Ellis was struck down with a bug having originally been tasked with hooking duties when James Catton was hamstrung in the week. With the barrel thoroughly scraped and every option exhausted, it was looking like Head Coach, Armand Roux was going to have to, once more, dust off the boots and step in as front-row replacement.
Step forward James Catton.
At 10am, he received the call to see how his hamstring held up to some gentle jogging and by 10.15am he was on the road. By kick off, he was like something out of a John Wayne movie, in both heart and gait due to the extraordinary strapping job done by the physios, and proceeded to display a gargantuan performance. One of the Dorking crowd was heard early on to say: “I didn’t know Hookers had hamstrings” and it appears this sentiment held true as Catton was everywhere.
Onto the game.
A gloriously crisp and mostly dry January day met the team as they got off the bus. A sharp warm-up was again not enough to prevent Dorking from a painfully sluggish start and saw them 8-0 down after 15 minutes after a big Shelford pack pushed over in the corner. A sub-plot to the first quarter was how woefully inadequate 3 substitutes are in this league when the Shelford captain and inside centre was carried off with a knee injury off the first phase of the game and Dorking’s exceptional scrum-half of recent weeks, Zach Woodcock was forced off after he was hit late and landed awkwardly on his arm, leaving both squads down to 17 for over an hour.
When Richard Nunn was binned harshly for a block on a kicker, there was a sense that it could get away from Dorking early on, especially when Shelford pushed over from a relentless maul from 5 metres out. But, at the ensuing restart, Shelford were offside and from the lineout, a bullocking run from George Evans, on for the sin-binned Nunn, leaving defenders in his wake resulted in the Shelford 7 and newly appointed captain see yellow and Dorking get on the score sheet for the first time as Matt Noble calmly slotted through to leave it 13-3 after half an hour.
An excellent exit from the restart and courageous defence from, among others, debutant Finn Osbourne, enabled Dorking to turn the ball over in the Shelford half. From an ensuing lineout and great short play from the Dorking forwards, the ball went slightly wider and Robbie Fee found himself at first receiver. With the precision of a Jordan Spieth putt, he deftly dropped the ball on his toe and amidst the anguished cries of the coaching staff, saw it trickle over the try line for Cam Osbourne to steam over and tap down, leaving his opposite number seemingly running through treacle, in his wake.
Dorking put up one more stand as, trying to play expansively off the restart gifted Shelford a scrum under the posts but were held out for a penalty in the end leaving it 16-8 at the half after Ed Carne made a beautiful break and seemed away with only the 15 and covering defender to beat only for the referee to call it back as he was taken out in the process and blow for half time.
Dorking went deep with the restart and were rewarded with a scrum 5 metres out when Matt Noble put in a deft chip over the rushing defence to see Shelford gratefully carry it over their own line. They were then pinged for offside and Dorking were within 5 points at 16-11.
A stand-out highlight of the game involved Tom Dobson steaming through the middle of the park, ably supported by his teammates, the ball went wide and Tom Hunt stepped and spun and careered down the right wing only for Shelford to intervene with a cynical pen. Spotting an opportunity from 5 metres out, Noble caressed a pinpoint cross-field kick over to Cam to step the first defender and be bundled into touch by the cover defence. From the lineout, Jake Dobson completed the set by charging down the box kick for that man Catton to collect and fall over the line to give Dorking the lead for the first time in the game and give the second row pair an assist each.
More excellent forward play gave Dorking a scrum in centre field, Matt Noble saw an opportunity for one of his trademark incisions through the Shelford defence and put Mike Terelak, back at 13, slide over in the corner and Dorking were up 16-23.
The game then changed with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, and following more excellent work in defence including another turnover from Finn Osbourne, Terelak was sin-binned for a high tackle which looked as though the Shelford man had ducked into it. After multiple phases and resolute defence, the game came down to a Shelford scrum 5 meters out which, for all intents and purposes, took an age. The sticky, tacky ground enabled a huge Shelford pack to gain valuable yardage and for them to dot down about 10 yards out to the right of the posts with the kick to draw the game. With an agonizing wobble, the kick went through, the whistle was blown and the game ended 23-23.
A valiant effort from the boys with adversity overcome across the park. Outstanding efforts from debutants Finn Osbourne and Paul Morgan, the aforementioned James Catton can look back on that game with immense pride and Ed Marsh stepping in admirably at 9 following Zach’s injury did not let anyone down.
Head Coach, Armand Roux had this to say:
“With a nice week’s rest after the Guernsey game postponement, the boys were really up for this game and it showed in the spirit displayed in today’s performance.
“Obviously, we had our challenges with finalising the team due to a late drop out, but all credit to the boys for stepping up to the plate and sticking together against a good Shelford side.
“It is always hard to pick out great individual performances but I have to mention Finn Osborne making his debut at 17 years’ old and not looking out of place, as well as Paul Morgan at 18 years of age coming on at centre and playing against a Tongan International.
“Ed Marsh going to 9 for 60 mins and providing Captain Matt with some great ball further shows the diverse skill sets we have at Dorking.
“Massive thanks to James who risked aggravating his injury further and thankfully got through 80 mins without any further issues.
“It’s one of those draw results where I feel it’s a game we lost as opposed to Shelford would feel they won that! We left about 3 tries out there.
“Great effort though, from a disrupted and young side to fight back 13-0 down to take the lead 16-23, and it is something I’m really proud off. You can’t coach that sort of character and belief and for us to show that on Saturday was very pleasing. Shelford is tough place to go and play, and even more pleasing to take 2 points home with us.
“Overall, I’m pleased with performance, individually and collectively, and we will definitely work hard on couple of key areas this week in the lead up to the rearranged Guernsey fixture”
Next up is the rescheduled Guernsey game back at the Big Field on Saturday 4th February. We look forward to seeing you there.
Team: Richard Nunn, James Catton, Ben Edwards, Rob Fee, Jake Dobson, Tom Dobson, Finn Osborne, Harry Watts, Zach Woodcock, Matt Noble, Cam Osborne, Ed Marsh, Mike Terelak, Tom Hunt, Ed Carne, George Evans, Michael Davis, Paul Morgan