Dorking 87 Basingstoke 7
It was in fact a really, really close call.
Bam had popped in taking Josh to the early bird swim session at the Leisure Centre and reported it to be rock hard at 8.00am as the expected deep frost arrived overnight although thankfully without the threatened snow. Jim consulted the relevant regulations and made ‘phone contact with Basingstoke to discover we had to make a decision before 11.30 when the ‘Stoke Coach was due to leave for Surrey. Thorners pulled in from Leatherhead complete with boots as the independent local referee and we fell into customary clichés of middle aged men sticking car keys into frozen turf to test the health and safety environment for far younger others. Jim was bullish on the basis it was no harder than after the drought in September............And Mick Williams was Match Sponsor. Thorners was bearish clearly unnerved by the difficulties Ampthill had found faced with similar circumstances. At that point it really could have gone either way. We were then joined on the frozen tundra by Brownie who advised that Bob had put the roast potatoes in. Decision made. Jim ‘phoned Junior back and the Basingstoke bus pulled out and set the sat-nav for Betchworth.
Once again the Newport Svengali had called it correctly and by two thirty it could take a stud, never mind a car key, and was firm enough for the feast of running rugby that was to follow. Numbers for lunch were a wee bit lower than we’ve had of late, with many with hindsight wrongly choosing Twickers and the Saffers over the visit of ‘Stoke. It was still a jolly affair with a good group from Basingstoke and three charming female Partners from Downs Solicitors who spent the afternoon under Ted’s parental care. Dermot won the swindle and Juddy launched the Dorking Twitter to a growing number of followers apparently now up to seventeen.
Juddy’s first tweet was to report the sight of Basingstoke running out in our away change kit following a mix up over the precise location of the jumpers for the visiting back row. Sadly for the visitors it was to be a portent of things to come as Basingstoke struggled to come to terms with a battery of late changes in personnel and a Dorking side bristling with confidence and adventure.
Andy Gardner was in at nine and Nu Nu kept the shirt in the centre after a solid display at Civil Service. Ryan and Terrors were on the wings with Gary on the bench and with Tom Bristow on another Geography field trip; this time in Austria apparently, Jesus continued at loose head and Camberley Shaun came back from Portsmouth Uni as front row cover, which in the event was just as well.
It didn’t take too long to see the predicted pattern of the game to unfold as Basingstoke struggled in the absence of their late withdrawals of Neil Young with man flu and skipper Appleby to work commitments, bringing a clear absence of familiarity in crucial parts of the pitch notably any recognisable defensive patterns. Spencer was first to profit after six minutes put away after an early sight of Ben Tyler’s after-burners down in front of the home gallery. Armand was running riot in centre field and Ryan Lucas looked equally frisky up the left getting us close enough for Greg Bateman to be driven over by a dominant pack. James Catton came off as a precaution with a niggly ham string mindful of tougher tests ahead replaced by a composed and confident Camberley Shaun Olayanju. The enforced change made little impact on the tempo of the game with ‘Arri and Greg Bateman’s trademark blind pass putting Matt in position to suck in the defence and dab through for Ben Tyler’s first of four tries. Terrors then turned provider, showing up in the centre to create an extra man and the overlap that Ryan took full advantage of. Four tries to the good and a bonus point after barely thirty minutes. Any counter attack from Basingstoke met stout Surrey Yeoman defence with Nu Nu putting in one particular stand out hit. We finished the half with a flourish; Matt broke out of our twenty two, linked with Ben Tyler who again gassed the defence and Ryan survived the smallest of ankle taps to regain his balance for his second score. Thirty three nil at the interval Juddy tweeted, five tries and four immaculate conversions from Matt finding his kicking form of yore.
Half Time Team Twitter
During half time we were joined in the Director’s Box by latest Dorking Mini Wunderkind Fraser Mosley to hear of his progress in the Harlequins Academy School of Excellence. Under intense cross examination Fraser eventually admitted that the levels of coaching, nutritional and psychological support were marginally better than that offered by Tigger, Phil Dalton and Pappa Mozza over the years.
The excitement of being ahead against the mighty Basingstoke and second in National League Three London and South East was somewhat tempered by being beaten to the title of Surrey Team of the Year at the Awards Ceremony at Denbies on Thursday. Congratulations to Rowledge Cricket Club which is somewhere south of Farnham on taking home the silverware for having picked up a slate of trophies and a reputation for fair play, leaving aside Richie querying how you can play cricket unfairly, unlike rugby of course......
The running order for Act Two was set pretty much straight away with Ben Lucas benefiting from some serious defensive lapses picking up a loose ball to dance through rather lacklustre defending. Matt again converted metronomicaly before Basingstoke had a moment of satisfaction and some consolation. Full back Ceri Cummings picked a terrific line to flat foot the Dorking defence and claim a nice personal score and conversion. Any prospect of ‘Stoke mounting a comeback and more of a contest was to be snuffed out when first the match official refused to let hard working back rower Dan Rees back on after prolonged treatment for a blood injury and then by ‘Arri rampaging up the middle and off loading to Matt who stepped neatly into his personal try time. By now we were totally rampant. Ben Lucas touched down on the hour after Matt had again made the first breach in the Basingstoke line. Spencer found wide open space and chipped through for Ben Lucas again to bag his brace. Terrors pulled even further away from Dad Peter’s career try scoring record picking up a loose ball and ploughing powerfully over the whitewash for try number fourteen of this season alone. From the restart Arri and Matt found Harry Watts hungry for the ball and soon touching down in front of Poland House. As in the first half we finished with flair and a flourish with Mike Terelak twice making massive ground and on each occasion finding Ben Tyler on his shoulder with the pace to finish matters of and take us to 87 points for the first time since Craig Greville moved to Camberley in the 80s. Thirteen tries. Eleven conversions from The Chosen One.
Director of Rugby Richie Andrews wasn’t short of praise for his high flying charges; “This was a quite awesome display of running rugby. It is often the case that teams struggle to turn the screw once they have established a healthy lead. That wasn’t the situation on Saturday. We were ruthless in keeping up the pressure and by the final quarter we were scoring pretty much at will. It just isn’t possible to select a man of the match from a superb team performance.”
And now onwards to top dogs Barnes. See you up there.
Dorking Squad; Ben Knight (Julian Baimbridge) , James Catton (The Cooper Family), Greg Bateman (The Running Horses Mickelham ) Ted Watts (The Cooper Family) , Ben Lucas (Mick Williams), Mike MacFarlane (Luke Bryant) Armand Roux (The Running Horses, Mickleham), Harry Watts(Abcab Dorking Taxis) Andy Gardner (Sponsorship Available), Matt Noble (The Running Horses, Mickleham), Neil Failes (Dorking Pet Centre) Ryan Lucas (Barber One Dorking) Ben Tyler (Messrs May and Sutherland), Mike Terelak (The Falkland Four), Steven Richards (Ben Allard),Gary Johnston (CVC Partners), Sean Olayanju (Portsmouth University) Rob Carloss (Gary Bell)