By Jim Evans
Westcombe Park RFC 7 - 25 Dorking RFC
The balmy days of September were a distant memory as the Dorking faithful made the short trip around the M25 to old friends at Westcombe Park. To be frank, it absolutely chucked it down - all match - and the conditions of course had a significant impact on how the match played out.
Receiving the kick off, Dorking had another slow start which is a theme Coach Roux will need to address, as chasing the game is not the best option in what remains a tough league.
Westcombe Park (‘WP’) kicked off and Dorking immediately gave away a penalty for offside. The shot at goal was blown wide but in trying to gather the ball it went over the dead ball line and WP were awarded a 5m scrum. Dorking put pressure on but from a retreating scrum the WP No 8 did well to pick up and drive over for a converted try, 7-0 - 3 mins gone.
From the re-start Dorking pressed and after a few plays were awarded a penalty and Matt slotted the kick into the corner. The much improved Dorking line-out functioned well and a good driving maul allowed Finn Osborne to dive over into the corner - into the wind the conversion was missed 7-5, 7 mins gone.
The referee was having a busy day as the game was very stop start due to the conditions, but he was also taking a keen interest in the breakdown. Darragh was deemed to have slowed down WP possession and was dispatched to the sidelines for 10 mins. The ensuing penalty shot at goal was again pushed wide by the wind. Dorking were enjoying some ascendancy at scrum time but continued to be on the wrong side of the referees decisions. It’s a dark art, but adjusting to each referee’s preferences is a skill in itself and Dorking must continue to work on picking their moments on when to contest at the breakdown or reduce the options to penalise. Worryingly Fraser Mosley went off with a pulled hamstring after a good run down the wing and was replaced by Ollie Rathbone. There were some other good incursions into the WP half but the home team defence held firm and the players took the Half Time whistle as a welcome opportunity to get back into the changing rooms and escape the driving rain. 7-5.
Coach Roux made some changes at half time - Charlie Connor on for James Catton and Joel Grant on for Darragh Chambers.
Again WP started the half well and there was clear change of tactic as they made good yards with a series of pick and drives but the well organised Dorking defence held out. Dorking now seemed to be getting into their stride and went close after a 5 metre scrum but WP cleared the lines with their impressive No 8 making a good run into the Dorking half.
In the conditions the ‘up and under’ was always going to be a good option, providing the chase is good, and this is something Dorking have worked on. Cam Cowell put a towering kick into the WP 22m - the wind blew the ball over the defenders head and Ryan J managed to get a toe to the bobbling ball and knock it into the try area and Toby pounced for the try. An accurate conversion kick from Matt just fell short, 7-10 to Dorking, 23 mins gone.
With Dorking getting their noses in front and spending more time in the WP half, tempers frayed and Henry Smith and WP No 10 were invited by the referee to have 10 mins watching the match from the sidelines.
Keen observers of the Game will testify there has been a mixed response to the new laws for this season, but one that looks like a positive change is the 50/22 kick - where if you kick the ball from your half and bounce it into touch in the opposition 22m, then you get the throw in to the line out. Cam Cowell exploited this option perfectly and from the line out Dorking executed a good series of drives and eventually drove over for the try with Johnny Ellis emerging as the scorer - Matt converted 5-17 to Dorking, 30 mins gone.
Dorking fitness now started to show and gaps began to open - Finn Osborne made a good break from the scrum, fed the supporting Matt Noble who made a good 50m run for the line but was just pulled up short. A few mins later Dorking were awarded a penalty in range of goal and with 40 mins elapsed the travelling support assumed with a two score lead, a kick to the corner and chance for the bonus point try was the obvious decision Captain Matt was having none of it - a neatly taken penalty took the scores to 7-20.
What do the sideline Taliban know! From the kick off Finn gathered the ball - made good yards - fed Matt again who makes ground and moves the ball onto Cam Cowell who draws the scrabbling defence. Cam made a well time pass for Toby to run on to for a clear 40m run to the line to score the bonus point try. Conv was missed and the referee brought proceedings to an end, 7-25 to Dorking.
A mad rush to dry out in the club house!
DoR Armand had the following had the following to say:

“To end up getting a 5 pointer in a game that had biblical rain and wind was a very pleasing result in the end. Both sides really stuck at it for the 80 mins and it was always going to be the team that adapts the most and makes the least amount of mistakes in those conditions to take the spoils. Huge amount of credit needs to go to the Dorking squad who I thought turned things around in the second half with some real intent and desire. Big thank you to the traveling support as always!”
Given the conditions, a good performance from both teams (and all credit to them) to put on a competitive match. In the end Dorking looked to have a bit more in the tank (well done Dan and the physio team) and took their chances well to take the 5pts on offer. It was great to see so many travelling to support Dorking - the easy option would have been to stay at home and I know the players really do appreciate the friendly faces on the sidelines.
After a quick beer, the players returned to the Big Field to prepare for an evening in the hostelries of Dorking, for a round of ‘Pub Golf’ along with the members of Dorking Netball Club. Unfortunately your correspondent was unavailable to join the outing, so sadly there is no report of how things went.
No match next week as the tribulations around the postponed/cancelled Tring match rumble on! Next outing will be at home on the 16th October when Dorking host the ever competitive CS Stags.

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