Vigo & New Ash Green (43) vs. (17) Darts Dev Darts Tries: (3) Scott, Jack, Sam Conv. (1) Harrison
This was a development-side game against the combined forces of NAG and Vigo with (as agreed) a number of their U16s thrown in, so always likely to be a good tester - and so it proved.
Walking over to the far side to take up my usual away-from-the-crowded-bit spot, I noticed that, unusually, the NAG club seemed to have provided some Press seats – in the form of an old red sofa! Word is getting around I thought. In the absence of my usual reporting partner, Lisa, who normally handles this sort of technical detail, my assistant for the day, Ron, gave the thing the once over but reported some unsightly staining and a distinct dampness and odour when he tried sitting on it so we opted for the touchline walk instead. It brought to mind an advert someone once sent me from an American paper which said,
“For Sale: Mattress. Nearly new, 40 Dollars (slight smell of urine).”
Anyway – on to the game. But you’ll have to forgive me if it’s an abbreviated version this week – my notes are getting shocking.
The start couldn’t have been any worse and doesn’t take much describing – the kick-off was caught by the NAG no. 10, who then ran the length of the field to score under the posts. Converted. 7-0
No panic after a ‘mare of a start, and a pinched NAG lineout – well driven and set up went through Sam to Scott and brought D’s their first try. Missed kick. 7-5.
The NAG backs especially were a handful all through the match. D’s scrum was creaking a bit at times and this gave the opposition backs plenty of time on the front foot – always hard to play against. I don’t know which of their players were the over-age ones but my money was on the wing, full back and no.10 who were all thorns in the Darts’ side the whole game. 3 more tries came in that department around this period with at times, the tackling not being quite up to standard from our side but fair play to a developing side with a lot of new faces and unfamiliar combinations for sticking at the job the whole match.
Good Darts period in the NAG final third of the pitch – a won line out followed up with good picking and driving with all the forwards much in evidence. The pressure forced persistent infringements by NAG and after a stern warning by the referee, he eventually lost patience and sent one of their players for 8 minutes in the bin. The resulting tap pen kept up the pressure and eventually brought a short-range drive over try from flanker Jack Lord – and well deserved it was as he had already been in the move 3 times.
Half time, 26-10
A few new bodies appeared for the 2nd half: Harrison, Josh, and to my surprise, Gregor McDonald who had limped away from the warm up earlier seemingly badly injured but was now restored to health. Gregor and Harrison were straight into the action with a double tackle on one of the NAG danger men so a great start for the replacement fly half Harrison and Lazarus McDonald.
The good spell got even better. Following a good run out of defence by D’s new lad at full back – Ryan I think his name is (but it could be Josh..) – Darts took a quick tap on the NAG 40m mark which was driven forward by Adam then to Sam, still with work to do but the7 foot height and telescopic reach got the touchdown. And full value was ensured with a good conversion from Harrison. 26-17
This was a dream period for our boys and a move from deep in our own half went right across the back line and finally to Kyle then Josh (or Ryan!!) who was dragged down just short of the line. Great work from the D’s backs deserved more but so close.
At this point, Darts were gaining the upper hand and clawing back on the scoreboard but just at the wrong time the luck deserted us – a hoofed kick took a horrible bounce, wrong footing the defence and NAG snatched the opportunity to run in a 60m try. That was the tin hat on it as a contest really and despite some heroic defensive tackling – notably from flanker Josh and winger Luke, NAG were not quite finished. A dodgy looking straight-through-the-tunnel scrum sent their 9 over for the last score.
Final score: 43-17
Darts’ Man of the match: Sam Harwood. Good effort on what was often a difficult day for the scrum. Always pressuring his opposite number. Well played. A word also for all the first season players (and the odd returnee) – Ryan, Josh, Joe Jebb, Harrison, Steven (not sure if he got on) and Nathan. I hope I remembered them all but apologies if not. I’ll get ‘em next time.
And by the way – don’t New Ash Green ever cut their grass? A few of our smaller players were barely visible in some parts of the pitch. It looked like that field that Cary Grant runs into in ‘North by Northwest’ to escape the murderous crop-duster plane. Might be an idea to fire up the lawnmower every now and then. Nice bacon and burgers though.