Rochford100 27 - Dorking 41
By Jon Watts
In 1961 a few like minded rugby aficionados met in an Essex boozer with the intent of starting a rugby club. On the wall of said boozer was an arbitrary notice from the Rochford One Hundred Licensed Victualers Association. A Hundred, in Anglo Saxon times, was an administrative area containing one hundred hides - a hide being the amount of land needed to sustain (just about - this was not a time of obesity epidemics) a peasant family. After several more scoops of ale the group decided that Rochford One Hundred would be a rather good name for a rugby club.
So it was that Dorking RFC travelled to the ancient One Hundred of Rochford to play the return fixture of the National 2 East 2022-23 season having won 59-24 on the home turf. The only other encounters between the teams was a 16-25 Dorking loss in the Covid curtailed 2019-20 season and a Dorking pre-season warm-up win last season.
A dry day on reasonably level and well maintained pitch - although the going was soft with the recent rain. A dip in form and big Stevie Howorth’s decision to have his stag on the remaining ‘free’ weekend taking all his mates with him (including 7 regular First teamers) meant that this fixture had the moniker ‘banana skin’ all over it.
Time for the squad to man up and prove themselves - and they did so magnificently. A bold selection of two very recent Colts, Ollie Rawlinson and Oli Shepard, along with Tom Dobson, Matty Gwyther and Adam Musa joining the more regular and not so regular players was a really exciting prospect.
A comfortable start to the game with Dan Riches going over and converted from out wide by Henry Anscombe; a penalty from Henry and a further boshing converted try from Toby Macrea and Dorking were quickly into a 0-17 lead. We have been here before this season - a commanding lead to melt away like a late spring frost. And indeed it came to pass with a Rochford penalty and a well worked try down the left wing put the score at 8-17 at Half Time. Second half and Rochford closed the gap further with a clever chip through to score under the posts bringing the score to a sweaty 15-17! One felt though, that Dorking had it in them to grip this match - despite some very hard running from Rochford as we managed to (just) bring the big ball carriers down.
After an excellent steal and well worked inter-passing between Bristow and Ellis that put Jackson away and under the posts for Henry A to slot over, it’s 15-24. A Rochford overthrow and Scholes gathers to crash through by the posts and now we’re looking good at 15-31. As always though - Rochford are fighting a relegation battle - they are not going to lie down and, after much pressure and a very neat cross field kick, score out wide to narrow the score 20-31. A Dorking penalty from 40 m out and Henry A, with a monstrous kick, keeps the score and gap ticking over 20-34. Further pressure from Dorking is thwarted 10m out with a knock-on only for the ball to skid out from the ensuing Rochford scrum and Dobson minor - having a rare old time - pounces and puts Henry Smith away under the posts for a very comfortable 20-41 lead. Rochford had the last word after fighting their way to the Dorking line and taking a subsequent quick penalty to get over under the posts 27-41 final score - and a very important bonus point for Rochford.
An impressive win from a side that, at the beginning of the season, you wouldn’t have really expected to be taking the field. The core of experienced players provided solid foundations and a great opportunity for some up and coming players to seize their chance. They most certainly did and gave DoR Roux a monumental selection headache ;-).
Armand Roux had the following comments:
“We have achieved some great 5 points away from home this season, but this victory was a special one for us. One from which players will learn a lot and coaches get confidence that we are on the right path.
I thought the senior players really stood up today alongside the fresher faces not being too far behind which was really pleasing for the coaching team to witness. We did make mistakes, but we were resilient and kept bouncing back.
Rochford do what they do really well, and throw in home ground advantage and the fact they are fighting for survival, meant we had to really be on it today and makes the win that much more impressive
Carpark karaoke was a special feature on the way home”
A very tough fixture ahead at North Walsham who are returning to form with (reputedly) a fizzing 10, a big home advantage and are also in a relegation dog fight. Happy days.
Dan Riches*, Adam Musa, Fraser Mosley*, Henry Anscombe, Toby Mcrae*, Cam Cowell*, George Jackson*, Tyler Norwood*, Tom Dobson*, Matt Gwyther*, Will Scholes, Daragh Chambers*, Tom Bristow*, Jonny Ellis*, Tom Powell, Ollie Rawlinson**, Max Sheldrake*, Tom Nairn, Henry Smith*, Oli Shephard**.
* Played for Dorking aged 18 and below
** Colts Development Program
Finally, and on a more sober note:
RIP Gary Broom. A club legend. Proud Welshman, fine wing forward and all round good guy (even though, as an opposition player, you wouldn’t want to end up on the floor the wrong side of a ruck!).
I played alongside Broomy for a number of years. You will be sorely missed