Dorking vs Sutton & Epsom
Saturday 18th February at The Big Field
Dorking 20 – 23 Sutton & Epsom
By Scott Richardson
The sun was shining and the weather sweet for Dorking’s return fixture against local rivals Sutton & Epsom. The crowd streamed through the turnstiles early on, eagerly anticipating another close encounter and full of joie de vivre and memories of a successful first leg, having come away victorious on their patch.
The game began positively for Dorking bar an unfortunate injury to Ben Knight who was forced off for the remainder of the game. Dorking battered the Sutton 22 with wave after wave of attack, spreading it from one side of the pitch to the other then bringing it tight to spread it wide once again. Suts were resolute for 10 minutes before giving away the first kickable penalty which Matt Noble duly obliged and Dorking were 3 points to the good.
The momentum then swung the other way when, seemingly out of nowhere, Sutton & Epsom summoned a mighty scrum and earned themselves a penalty. Although they missed the pen, the field position was telling and when Dorking tried to play themselves out of trouble, a loopy pass was spilled in the midfield and scooped up by Suts allowing their rangy fullback to saunter in about 10 metres wide of the posts to give Sutton & Epsom a 3-7 lead.
7 soon became 12 when, having received the kickoff, Dorking allowed an ugly box kick to hit terra firma, giving Sutton & Epsom the chance to work it into their 22 and for the ball to eventually find the fullback, once again, who evaded a couple of Dorking tacklers and took it into the corner.
With the Dorking faithful still scratching their heads at just how they found themselves 2 scores behind, it seemed as though normality had resumed when a loose ball was flicked up by the Sutton player and, in just his second appearance and first start for the club, James Arbury gleefully snatched it out of the air and headed, unopposed, to the line only for referee to call him back for a knock on.
The crowd were given the opportunity to cheer shortly afterwards, however. Quick thinking from the outstanding Oli Edwards as he took a quick tap from a penalty just inside the Sutton half and having rumbled up himself, seemingly put Tom Hunt in the clear only for him to be dragged down a metre or so short by an excellent try-saving tackle. It wasn’t enough for Sutton, though as the ball was recycled quickly and shifted to Mike Terelak, stepping in at first receiver and shipped onto James Catton. Catton drew the defender and floated the ball out to Stu Watkins who dutifully dotted down for a well-earned try on the day and leave Dorking 10 -12 down going into half time.
Sutton managed to extend their lead early in the second half with a penalty for Dorking infringing at the breakdown. Dorking responded admirably by working their way down the field and the forwards kept it tight with some abrasive pick and goes eventually leading to Ben Edwards, on for the injured Ben Knight, to carry over the line to give Dorking the lead, once more.
Dorking failed to exit from the restart and Sutton duly butchered a 3 on 0 before bringing it back the other side to score in the corner to snatch the lead straight back.
Dorking managed to even the scores with a penalty shortly after and, as the Sutton & Epsom 12 was given 10 minutes in the bin, it was looking positive for Dorking. They were unable to take advantage, however, and shortly after, James Arbury was also binned for a high shot to bring parity on the field as well as the scoreboard.
From the ensuing lineout, Robbie Fee was pinned at the bottom of a ruck and pinged for not rolling away. It seemed a harsh call from an otherwise good day from the referee, especially when it gave Sutton & Epsom the lead but that’s unfortunately how the cookie crumbles and when Dorking managed to get a penalty of their own soon after, all was quickly forgiven.
With the last kick of the game Matt Noble, who had been outstanding with the boot all game stepped up, put his foot through it and watched it drift agonisingly wide. Or did it?! One lineo had their flag down, the other up! The ref decided it was wide (a fact backed up by kicker, Noble); the game was lost, the crowd confused and the day was done.
On the whole, it seemed 23-23 would have been a fair result with both teams unable to execute a fair number of chances but it wasn’t to be. The game officially ended, Dorking 20 -23 Sutton & Epsom. Dorking can, again, be proud of their performance with some admirable showings from Stu Watkins in the centre and in the forwards, Oli Edwards was colossal at 7 and Finn Osborne imperious in the lineout getting 3 or 4 steals off the oppositions.
Director of Rugby, Armand Roux saw positives to take away from the defeat:
“Leading up to the match we always knew it will be a cracking game, and one I felt we should have won, but it was not to be. Sutton and Epsom was visibly hungry for the victory and deserved to win.
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes in our own half which led to points to Sutton.
“I thought James Catton played really well and carried non-stop alongside young Finn Osborne who was consistently giving them grief in the lineouts.
“Robbie Fee tackled like a man possessed.
“Also, I felt it was a bit unfair to leave it all on Nobes to level the match at the end, as he had been kicking so well throughout the game.
There were a couple of good performances that deserved a little more out of the game. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
“I want to give massive Credit to Caddy and his men. They played well and capitalised every time we got it wrong. Must have been bitter-sweet for Ex-Dorking player, Steve Munford, to kick the winning penalty but if there is someone who wanted the victory it was Steve.
“So that’s 1 a piece for the local Derbies. Not the way we wanted it, but there is always next year.
“The guys have a Saturday off this week, but we will be working hard Tuesday and Thursday as we have got some work to do.”
A brief respite as there is a weeks’ break before a tough trip to Hertford follows on 5th March. Look forward to seeing you there.
Team: Ben Knight, James Catton, Richard Nunn, Robbie Fee, Finn Osborne, Jonny Ellis, Oli Edwards, Harry Watts, Andy Gardner, Matt Noble (c), Mike Terelak, Stu Watkins, James Arbury, Tom Hunt, Ted Carne, Ben Edwards, Daragh Chambers, Cam Osborne