Tonbridge Juddians vs Dorking
by Scott Richardson
The Dorking bus left The Big Field basked in glorious sunshine, filled with both Dorking 1st and A XV’s and positively buzzing with energy at the challenge that lay ahead. TJ’s are deservedly rooted in the upper echelons of the league but there was an expectance about the Dorking sides that they knew they were due a performance and well-capable of turning over any team in the league.
Once off the bus at Tonbridge it was quite the opposite as they were greeted by savage, blustery conditions and a wide open plain on which sat a solitary pitch. Such were the gusts that the ball would deviate from hand to foot when kicking and would hesitate as if some magnetic force were restraining it as players passed it. It was incredible to watch.
However, the game started well for Dorking. Within minutes, they had a lineout in their own half. With the wind behind him, James Catton nailed the throw and the ball went off the top. Tom Hunt then hit a sumptuous line on a switch and scythed through the TJ defensive line before burning past the covering wing and fullback to score and put Dorking 0-7 up. A masterful 1st phase moved, executed to perfection.
Things continued to look up for Dorking and the scrum proved as dominant as they have been all year but a questionable “no-call” from the referee seemed to change the game. A scrum just outside the TJ 22 descended into farce when the referee insisted that Dorking “use it” even though the TJ scrum had disintegrated, leaving the Dorking front row face to face with the TJ number 8. The ball was turned over and TJ’s worked it down the field to eventually get their 1st score of the game, following a number of scrums on the Dorking 5 metre line, to make it 5-7.
Dorking maintained pressure in the form of field position for much of the half but couldn’t convert it into points. Whilst the lineout performed admirably in the conditions, TJ’s had a beanpole of Devin Toner proportions playing in the second row who was tough to clear at 2 and the wind made anything past 3 a huge gamble. As such, what was to become a theme of the day emerged with Dorking working their way up to the TJ 22, only to be repelled and punished when the TJ wing went under the posts to put them 12-7 to the good.
Dorking had one more chance in the half when Matt Noble made a half break and looked to have put Mike Terelak in with an offload but it was adjudged to be forward and pulled back for a scrum and the last meaningful act of the half meant that Dorking went in scratching their heads as to how they were trailing.
The second half began with more Dorking dominance in the pack earning them a penalty and field position but again they were unable to convert into points and it wasn’t long before TJ’s found themselves kicking a penalty and stretching the lead further to 15-7.
Shortly after, TJ’s turned the ball over on half-way and allowed their winger to burn down the touchline and score to put them 20-7 ahead and Dorking were inexplicably all but out of the contest. TJ’s continued to pile on the pressure eventually leading to one more score as their replacement managed to bundle the ball over the line in the corner.
All that remained was for Jasper King to be shown yellow for some cynical but necessary tomfoolery at the breakdown as Dorking were stretched and digging deep to hold out the continued onslaught. The deficit was short lived as, following another pasting at scrum time, the huge TJ replacement prop took offence and flashed a punch at Fred Evans and saw yellow himself.
One more penalty for TJ’s made the score 28-7 and that’s how it remained until full-time. Dorking could count themselves unlucky to be on the receiving end of a score-line that doesn’t do a valiant performance the justice it deserved. Huge encouragement for the Dorking scrum who were superb all day.
Armand Roux, Director of Rugby, had this to say:
“Even though I’m disappointed with the result today, our performance has improved a lot.
“We took good control through periods of the game and our scrums and line-out were functioning very well.
“We made some great line breaks and left a few tries out there. I feel a losing bonus point would have been a fair reflection of the game, but not to be.
“Application was key for me and we took a great step in the right direction today.
“TJ’s showed their class by capitalising well on our mistakes so credit to them.
“No injuries and looking forward to Westcliff this week who we owe a good performance after really struggling at their place.”
Team: Ben Knight, James Catton, Ben Edwards, Harry Sheppard, Jasper King, Jonny Ellis, Finn Osborne, Harry Watts, Andy Gardner, Matt Noble (c), Cam Osborne, Stuart Watkins, Mike Terelak, Tom Hunt, Ed Carne, Fred Evans, Rory Mitchell, Fraser McDonald