Dorking continued their mightily impressive start to this campaign with another bonus point win at home over strugglers Havant.
Havant could have been forgiven for approaching the fixture with some trepidation given their winless start to the season and several drubbings included on the ledger. However, whilst Dorking eventually secured some comfort on the scoreboard, it was not the stroll some spectators were predicting.
The game started in breezy yet fair conditions with Dorking enjoying the luxury of several selectorial dilemmas. Andy Gardner was the unlucky one to miss out having done little wrong in previous weeks. Richie Booth being given the nod for a first start in Dorking colours being the only change from last week. On the bench, John Greensell and Jake Presley came in to replace University bound Ryan Jeffrey and Sam Johnson.
The opening few minutes were nervy and slightly disjointed - perhaps too many had been watching the England team's idea of attacking rugby. Havant were making a considerable nuisance of themselves, particularly at the breakdown and it seemed that the Richie Andrews’ men were content to be dragged down. The feeling of ennui continued for the first fifteen minutes until the Havant tighthead prop Luke Marks got over-excited and biffed skipper Armand Roux directly in front of referee David Parsons. Left with little option, the miscreant was sent to contemplate the error of his ways for the remainder of the fixture from the sideline.
The result of the red card was initially hard to recognise as the game continued in a similar vein. If anything, Dorking now seemed to be getting fewer of the decisions from Mr Parsons and appeared disjointed and distracted. Fortunately, after a very long 25 minutes, Ed Gardner found the tiniest gap and took advantage with alacrity. Try poacher extrordinaire Mike Terelak was on hand to take the scoring pass to gallup in wide on the left. Matty Noble pushed his conversion just wide but Dorking had their noses in front at last.
Almost immediately afterwards, quick ball from a ruck saw Alrich Muller putting Gardner through again. This time, there was a return pass to Muller before the ball was back in Terelak's hands and another run in for his second score in as many minutes. This time Noble found his radar and converted to give the scoreboard a more respectable look. 12-0 on the half hour.
Curiously, Dorking were producing a classic curate's egg performance. Some scintillating attacking followed by some crass errors. The frustration was to last for the next 10 minutes until Muller himself got on the end of another tidy move to scuttle over in the corner. Noble again converted to extend the lead to 19 unanswered points.
As the half time oranges beckoned invitingly from the changing rooms there was time for another bout of argy-bargy. This time, skipper Roux was deemed the prime offender and was shown yellow for retaliation. His opinion of the decision was evident and most found something else to do rather than engage the frowning talisman in conversation.
As the whistle carrier signalled the end of the half, Dorking trotted off the pitch and the general consensus on the sideline was that the changing room would not be a place for the faint of heart. As the crowd milled about contemplating whether to go for the Newdigate roasted fresh coffee or Chiswick’s own London Pride, others more advanced in their decision making process were providing light entertainment with the lucky few of Welsh descent.
The second half started with Dorking looking more intent and although the numbers were currently level, Dorking were hitting the rucks with more intensity and the visitors were wobbling. With the half barely 5 minutes old, the Dorking backs engineered an overlap for Ryan Lucas to burst through the desperate tackle of Havant full back Stapleton. Again Noble converted and with the bonus point duly secured, the crowd hoped that Dorking would ease away and spare them any jitters.
For the next 20 minutes, Dorking were back in full flow and in control. A straight-forward push over try from a clearly motivated Roux and a second from Lucas after tidy work from sub Presley book-ended a remarkable score from Tom Bristow, which I am reliably informed included the big man unveiling his sidestep after an excoriating break from Gardner.
A small moment of discomfiture came when Matt Noble had to flourish his off games slip when Dorking had already used all their substitutes and subsequently, Dorking played the last 20 minutes with fourteen. Although, to watch the game at this stage, you would have been hard pressed to notice.
Havant however weren’t going to roll over and play dead and were rewarded with two tries of their own. Firstly nice work up the left touchline resulted in flanker Tom Horn ploughing over after 70 minutes and in the last play of the game, visiting skipper Grant Morris went over. Neither try was converted and the final score was 43-10.
With news coming through that joint leaders Canterbury had also secured their bonus point win, Dorking could consider the game a job done although perhaps not quite as well done as it might have been. Next week, Dorking travel up the M1 to face Ampthill, scene of their first defeat last season. All involved will be keen to make sure that that blot is wiped clean before the big one verses Canterbury the following week.
Dorking Squad: Tom Bristow (sponsored by The Bristow Family), James Catton The Cooper Family), Ben Knight (BamBam), Qin Wiseman (St. Johns School Leatherhead), Matt Higgins (Bob White), Ian White (Russell James Recruitment), Harry Watts (Abacab, Dorking), Armand Roux (The Running Horses, Mickleham), Richie Booth (Sponsorship available), Matt Noble (The Running Horses, Mickleham), Ryan Lucas (Barber One), Ed Gardner (Stoneset Limited), Alrich Muller (Mistral Recruitment Solutions, Dorking), Mike Terelak (The Falkland Four), Spencer Richards (Ben Allard). Subs: John Greensell, Will Kruis, Jake Presley (Brian Sworn)