Dorking 1st XV 44 – 12 Havant 1st XV
By Kevin Beal
A full house at lunch (and what a lunch – thanks Robert) celebrating the club’s ladies, both on and off the pitch, a large crowd of home and away supporters and the weather gods benevolent. It could only be a Saturday afternoon at The Big Field.
It would be fair to say that the away fixture back in October was a game of two halves with Dorking running away with the first 40 and Havant coming back strongly in the second 40 such that the red & whites had victory by the narrowest of margins; 1 point. But that was on Havant’s plastic pitch and the Dorking Faithful were hoping that the more traditional surface of soil and grass would play to the home team’s strengths.
And it did.
Havant chose to kick off playing uphill, and immediately gave away a penalty. Not to be outdone, Dorking did the same from the line out and the game settled into a familiar pattern where the red & whites had most of the possession, allowing Havant only glimpses of the ball to play with. On the 10 minute mark this possession paid off with lock Steve Howorth touching down as a maul was driven over the line from 10 metres out. With Captain Noble missing the conversion into the wind (more of a ‘range finder’ as it would turn out) it was Dorking 5 – 0 Havant.
Strong defence from both sides kept play in the midfield for the next 10, with neither side able to break out although the red & whites again had the lion’s share of possession. With the ‘no arms’ tackle seemingly the weapon of choice for the Havant front row it was only a matter of time before Sir called a halt, which he did sending their no.1 to the naughty step for a 10 minute rest. With Dorking 9 George Jackson off for an HIA, Henry Anscombe slotted in at scrum half, Captain Noble moved to fly half, Ryan Jeffery moved to centre and Fraser Mosley came in on the wing. Taking advantage of the extra man up front, Finn Osborne was driven over in the bottom right hand corner for Dorking’s second try of the afternoon and with the conversion good, Dorking eased into a 12-0 lead. There then followed one of the finest trys seen at The Big Field for many a year, as Finn Osborne collected the ball just outside the Dorking 22 and set off down field with a full defence ahead of him. First a dummy, then a sidestep and he was in the clear, with only 50 metres to go. With the Havant cover scrabbling across, an unselfish pass to the unmarked Henry Anscombe made for the simplest of touch downs under the posts, duly converted and it was 19-0.
With George Jackson returning to the fray the backs reverted to the starting line up and it wasn’t long before Sir was reaching into his pocket to card one of the Havant backs for illegally snuffing out a promising attack. With Daragh Chambers on for Joel Grant, Dorking made the numbers count and Louis Flynn was over the whitewash out wide for his first try of the afternoon. Conversion missed, Dorking 22 – 0 Havant with the half time oranges to follow.
The Havant team stayed out on the pitch for the break and their coach administered the ‘hair dryer’ in full view. It seemed to work as they came out blazing at the start of the second half and Dorking were under the cosh with the injured Tyler Norwood being replaced by Fraser Mosley and a re-shuffle in the pack. Steadying the ship Dorking took the play back up field and conceded a scrum. With the put in and ball secured, Havant opted to kick downfield but the ball took a deflection and ricoched kindly into Louis Flynn’s hands and he was over for his second converted try. 31-0.
Dorking’s game plan was then thrown into confusion as Finn Osborne went down clutching his knee, and after a serious amount of strapping and one further scrum he left the pitch. With all three first choice back row now off, there was a major re-shuffle in the pack with Jonny Ellis moving to the back row and Charlie Connor on in the front row. Further injuries to Lock Steve Howarth and a couple of yellow cards left the red & whites down to 13 men on occasion, and Havant crossed the try line twice as a result, although they did sportingly reduce the player deficit by picking up a couple more yellow cards themselves.
With the score 31 – 12 and Havant in the ascendancy, Captain Noble sensibly opted to keep the ball up the Havant end and kick any penalties that were on offer. Firstly right in front of the posts; 34-12 with 20 to go. And a few minutes later, just inside the Havant half a long range effort from Henry Anscombe dropped short, but was knocked on by the defending player. From the ensuing 5m scrum Dorking spun the ball out to the wing, but the Havant 13 intercepted the ball and set off down field with Cam Cowell in hot pursuit. A fine cover tackle from Cam stopped him in his tracks, but not before he’d popped a pass to the supporting winger, who was hauled down just sort of the line by Fraser Mosley. With no support Fraser hung on for a bit longer than he should have and Sir blew for a penalty. As he reached into his pocket for a card, the Havant no 9 took a quick tap. Too quick; the support players weren’t ready and it was intercepted by Louis Flynn who was away clear for an 80 metre dash to the line for his hat trick, converted from out wide. 41-12. And a yellow card for Fraser. Shortly after, Dorking extended their lead with another Noble penalty, 44-12.
Down to 14 men, with a makeshift pack and a hobbling Steve Howorth Dorking were very much on the back foot for the final 15. The match was clearly won, the argument now being by how many and only dogged defence kept the visitors out. Two forays into the Havant 22 by Fraser Macdonald and Daragh Chambers respectively nearly resulted in further scores, but both fell just short of the line. And as the clock ticked down, prop Charlie Connor was invited to sit out the rest of the match for an indiscretion in the ruck with the 13 Dorking players still on the pitch very relieved to hear the full time whistle.
Final score, Dorking 44 – 12 Havant.
DoR Roux commented:
I am very pleased with the result today, as Havant can be a dangerous team when given the opportunity. We really had to focus on a couple of areas today and it paid off for us.
All our focus turns to Sidcup next who had a good result over at Wimbledon.
Team: Tom Bristow, Jonny Ellis, James Catton, Fin Osborne, Steve Howorth, Joel Grant, Fred Dalton, Tyler Norwood, George Jackson, Henry Anscombe, Louis Flynn, Fraser Macdonald, Matt Noble, Ryan Jeffery, Cam Cowell, Charlie Connor, Daragh Chambers Fraser Mosley