Why Delilah indeed. Poor old Spenno as you’ve probably heard, suffered – the squeamish should look away now - a partial dislocation and fracture of his hip socket as our reigning leek eating record holder landed awkwardly in the tackle against his fellow Welsh dwellers of National 3 up at Ampthill and has spent the last week and a bit awaiting surgery. “I am feeling a bit gutted, as it goes” Spencer tweeted from St George’s up at Tooting “I’d just got my head round Alain Rolland’s betrayal and you know in rugby everyone accepts injuries are part of the game. Then I was lying here listening to Radio Jackie and someone just blurted out that Westlife had split up. Sometimes you do wonder if there is a God whatever Richie has to say” There was encouragement for Spencer from Dorking President Ted Ivens; “ I’ve had both my hips done up at St George’s and come to think of it I have a feeling that they did Chris Kane’s knees, one of them anyway. I was back playing Bridge within the week”.
There were more than a few further distressed hip joints at a sell out pre match lunch when table topping Canterbury arrived in Brockham on another beautiful afternoon at the weekend as Alan O’Hea organised a reunion of many VP members including Alan Clatworthy making the journey up from Itchenor for this must see first versus second clash. Canterbury President Dicky Ovenden amazingly turned out to share a birth date with Ted (12th March 1939 when Hitler was heading for Poland and Paddy for Holyhead) and a new lease of life with a completely new audience for his lunchtime speech repertiore; one of the few demotion dividends since Canterbury had been relegated, of which more later.
Ed Gardner initially replaced Spenno in the match programme only to himself fall to the curse of the number fifteen jersey with temperamental hamstrings seeing the welcome return of Richard Kemp to first fifteen colours in front of a big crowd; about four hundred according to Dorking Ad Lee who knows about these things. Ryan Jeffrey had come back from Leeds to join Lovey in the centre and Greg Bateman was once again in the soft seats after his TV appearance for Welsh on Sky the previous evening. Canterbury arrived with Tiggers’ nephew Tom starting at hooker as yet another Rogers graced the Big Field.
And as you’d have expected Canterbury turned out to be pretty good. The Canterbury forwards put a stranglehold on the ball that we just couldn’t break out of and their backs were no mugs either running neat lines off Tom Best who put pace on it all afternoon. We had our moments for sure, but mostly from deep and adventurous as we were, Canterbury were well organised and held firm where lesser teams would have struggled.
The tone was sort of set straight away with the familiar early scare as Canterbury announced their arrival with a searing break up the middle. Harry put in a big hit on their big 3 and Terrors cleared the first onslaught. Mr Haskins then turned the pressure into a penalty and Best got on the scoreboard with a straightforward penalty. We started to play our patterns and worked it up the right where Kempy looked to have created a two- on- one to put Terrors over only for the defender to get a hand to it which Mr Haskins adjudicated not to have been deliberate and a defensive scrum rather than penalty try and probably a card. Our disappointment was short-lived. Matt picked out Lovey in the inside left channel who battered his way over with a series of jabbing hand offs as he repelled at least three would be tacklers. Matt converted. Having weathered Canterbury’s storming start, what we needed was a period of possession and consolidation. What we got was the complete opposite. Canterbury produced some dazzling interplay between Baars, Micans and Del Val teeing up Mackintosh on the right wing to fly over. Best failed to add the extras but Canterbury were back in front. For us Matt was at the centre of Dorking’s effort first narrowly failed to find Terrors with a cross kick towards the St Johns’ van and then putting in a try saving tackle on the other side of the paddock in pretty quick succession. Will Crow was also pugnacious and prominent without ever finding the break to get a better return on his investment. Mr Haskins was again the centre of attention sending Matt Higgins to the cooler just before half time which to be fair didn’t seem to be strongly contested – and which hardly made our challenges in securing front foot possession easier. Canterbury smelt blood and had a period of sustained pressure on the Kiln Lane line. But they met some really strong defence from Qin and Tom going toe to toe with the league leader’s pack. Jesus, James and Ian also stayed big and made it to the half time hooter with the line intact much to Canterbury’s frustration which led to a bout of argy bargy as the players headed for the tunnel.
Why some men like their dogs more than their partners was the issue of the day our visiting dignitaries asked the politically sensitive Dorking members over lunch. Potential explanations included because (a) a dog’s parents never call round (b) a dog is more likely to find you amusing when you are drunk and (c) try locking them both in the garage for an hour and see which one is more pleased to see you when you let them out. They must really miss this in National 2 South.
During half time Dorking Rugby Club released an announcement confirming the World Cup Wonders Gala Dinner will now take place on Friday 25 November. Confirmed for the evening are Welsh legend Gareth Edwards, Scotland’s Dave Hilton, Ireland’s Mark Blair and Rob Henderson, Ben Sturnam from England, and house favourite..........of course the legend that is New Zealand’s Zinzan Brook. Tickets £35 from Spreckers or Kevin Beal. Tables of 8 or 10. Get it in your diary NOW.
We were first back out on the park with a sense that Richie would have had some clear views to share during the interval and Ian White took the kick off superbly. Kempy who had a terrific game repeatedly made time for himself first to give Ryan Lucas and then Lovey a run. Harry continued to buzz about as Will continued to press and probe. But the expected gaps in the Canterbury defensive line didn’t materialise and what ball we did manage to get hold of was fairly deep down our end. Full marks for our adventure though and we certainly gave it a lash. Doing so repeatedly from our own 22 was however always going to be a high risk high reward strategy and when ‘Arri’s Sonny Bill Williams pass out of the back door went to ground centre Michael Melford had a simple run in to stretch the Canterbury advantage. Best again missed the extras. We now really went for broke for the single score that remained between the teams. Nick Marlow replaced James and Marshy came on for Ryan Jeffrey who was clearly struggling with a crocked shoulder. Will took a quick tap and almost released Matt. Kemp continued to pose problems and we put in a couple of terrific scrums which visiting number 8 Wimms Baars dealt with brilliantly. Hard as we tried the offer of a further penalty shot to all intents and purposes put the game beyond us as Best converted lengthening the lead to two scores. With the game pretty much up there was still time for one final piece of theatre. Matt popped it up for Armand to find Ryan Lucas in a threatening position only to be stopped illegally between the twenty two and half way about around the flag pole. With the clock running down Roux signalled for the posts and Nobes nervelessly nudged it over to at least salvage a bonus point for our efforts.
Director of Rugby Richie Andrews said: “Canterbury were a well organised team and deserved their win. That said I do feel that we let them in for a couple of soft tries. We certainly feel that we can reverse the result in the return fixture. After two losses in successive weeks, it is going to be really important we get back to winning ways next week.”
Man of the Match: Ben Knight (Julian Bambridge)
Dorking Squad: Tom Bristow (The Bristow Family), James Catton (The Cooper Family), Ben Knight (Julian Bambridge) Harry Watts ( Abacab Dorking Taxis) Armand Roux (The Running Horses, Mickleham), Matt Higgins (Bob White) Qin Wiseman (St John’s Leatherhead) Ian White (Russell James Recruitment), Will Crow (The Running Horses, Mickelham), Matt Noble (The Running Horses Mickelham) Simon Love (International Sports Marketing) Ryan Jeffrey (Space Change Management) Ryan Lucas (Barber One Dorking) Mike Terelak (The Falkland Four), Richard Kemp (Roger Parkin) Ed Marsh (Dorking Tool Hire) Will Kruis ( University of Durham) Nick Marlow (Sponsorship Available)