National Division 2 East
Dorking make it Three from Three with Nine Tries
North Walsham 14 - Dorking 59
By Jon Watts
Week 3 of the season’s league fixtures took Dorking on the road to North Walsham. Top of the league playing bottom of the league - but at this juncture it meant little. North Walsham have a long and distinguished record of National League rugby, Previous encounters have been close run and hard fought, and complacency was banished by Dorking’s experienced players and coaches.
Playing conditions were perfect with sunshine and a gentle breeze. The pitch was immaculate and North Walsham deserve credit in providing what is, without doubt, the best playing surface in the league (and those lucky enough to attend, found the pre-match lunch also of the highest standard). North Walsham are very much a community rugby club and the focus of social and sporting activity in the area.
Dorking took the kick off and from the initial play, turned the ball over for Captain Fred Dalton to set his stall out as the number 7 of the league with a driving play that released Toby McRae to score in the corner. An impressive touchline conversion from Henry Anscombe, the first of 7 for the afternoon made it 0-7 with seconds on the clock. Dorking continued with plenty of controlled yet expansive play that saw Finn Osborne released to score under the posts followed by another well worked passage of play to see Tom Howe over for the first of his 3 tries. With the conversion missed, and Will Scholes swiftly adding to the score line by driving over the whitewash in characteristic style, the try bonus point was in the bag. With three of the four tries converted it was 0-26, barely 15 minutes into the game.
North Walsham were not without attacking options themselves and looked dangerous given the ball but playing catch-up is always a difficult balance between control and innovative flair. A chip through for their impressively fast winger McGuire to chase saw the ball collected by Dorking’s full back Cam Cowell who released McRae up the left wing. With the defenders massing around him, McRae was able to offload the ball and set an equally pacey Tom Howe off away for his second of the day. With Anscombe’s conversion good the score was 0-33.
From the re start Dorking were awarded a scrum on their 10 metre line, and against the run of play they were shunted off the ball by a now pumped-up North Walsham pack. With the Red & White’s defence caught a little flat footed, the speedy North Walsham winger McGuire was in for a try in the corner. A very good touchline conversion by centre Magnus and they were on the scoreboard 7-33.
Tom Howe, the seasoned campaigner that he is, sensed the need to nip this resurgence in the bud and a wonderful solo break put him over for his third try to steady the ship. An uncharacteristic conversion miss by Anscombe made it 7-38. A yellow card for a high tackle by the North Walsham 4 saw the home team reduced to 14 men, and from the ensuing penalty Cal Watson took a cracking line to make ground and then follow up the play to crash over the line for his try. The conversion by Anscombe was good to take the half time score to 7-45.
North Walsham’s second half kick off was caught cleanly by Dorking’s Osborne, but he was adjudged to have taken the ball into touch. A clean take for North Walsham’s line out jumpers and they start to play some good attacking rugby. A good talking-to in their changing room had obviously galvanised the side and Dorking had to defend for an extended period. Eventually the pressure paid dividends and Walsham scored out wide through McGuire. Another excellent conversion by Magnus and the score was 14-45.
Fresh legs introduced from the strong Dorking bench helped them stem the tide. A yellow card for Jasper King saw him off for 10 minutes for a high tackle, but Scholes took control with a strong break up field putting Jonny Ellis over the line, 14-52. A penalty kicked to the corner and with King now back from the sin bin he took a clean line out catch and was driven over the line for another try, 14-59.
As the clock ticked down, Dorking were not quite finished and Fraser Mosley, having a great run from the bench, popped the ball to Tom Howe in support on a perfect line and away for his fourth try only to have it disallowed as adjudged forward in the pass. (Something to do with refraction or the curvature of the earth those of us standing in line with the pass surmise). And that was it. Final score 14-59.
Always areas to improve on as this side will be self-critical enough to acknowledge, but a solid performance in difficult fixture a long way from home against a side that will no doubt improve before we next meet.
DoR Armand Roux commented:
“Overall very pleased with the 5 points on the road today, but our performance was far from perfect.
We finished some cracking opportunities when they came around and created some even better ones so lots of positives to take from the game.
Lots of credit must go to North Walsham who stayed in the fight at every point.
Also a big thank you to all the traveling support who as always made us feel right at home.”
Team: Cowell, Sanders, Howe, Anscombe, McRae, Holland, Smith, Birch, Watson, Stephenson, Scholes, King, Jardine, Dalton ©, Osborne, Ellis, Connor, Howorth, Mosley, Jackson
Player of the Match – Tom Howe
Photo's by John Watkins