Posted by Gary
Chislehurst 23rd Oct 2011
It was another one of those ones! You know the drill – warm, sunny day, rugby on telly in the clubhouse early doors, bar staff dispensing foaming pots of ale (Spitfire this time in case you wondered), and the prospect of a great U15s game to come. A serious case of déjà vu you might say (although if you ask me, déjà vu isn’t what it used to be).
Most of our players had been foaming at the mouth over the last few weeks having not played much (or not at all) so it was great to have a full-blown first team fixture against a good team like Elthamians. A quick word about the line-up as a few new combinations were in evidence. Phil came into the 2nd row with his usual aplomb, the centre combo of the 2 Archies had a good day, and James Fuller – rapidly becoming the Austin Healy-style utility back of the team, this time turned out at full-back. And finally, we had the return of Jonny at 10. Enough team news already…
Elthamians, in their familiar blue and yellow colours, made a great start – strong driving forcing a series of scrums around Darts’ 22 and only good defence in this period; in particular, good tackling from Sam and Jonny, prevented an opening score. But camped in your own half for 10 or 15 minutes and not getting any ball is not an easy position to defend and the pressure finally paid off for Elthamians when, from half way their danger player, the big left winger danced through a number of would-be tacklers for the first try. Converted for 7-0.
Having looked forward to this game for 3 weeks, the boys didn’t look too impressed to be denied any ball and then to go a try down with some sloppy tackling - and straight from the restart there was a new urgency about them. A now familiar forwards’ drive straight through the middle forced an infringement from Elthamians and from the penalty, Michael took a quick tap and stampeded towards the posts before feeding Sam, who completed the move with a good try. Jonny celebrates his return with a stylish drop-kick conversion!! 7-7.
The Darts’ control really started to bite at this stage with the scrum in particular proving to be immense. Throughout the whole match the opposition were on the back foot – frequently being forced to reset or even conceding ball against the head. It was on the back of such a passage of play that the next score came. A number of reset Elthamians scrums forced them to make a clearance and a won line-out ball out to the backs saw Archie Wiles
charging down the middle – legs and arms pumping away. He is so hard to put down and frequently needs to be tackled 2 or 3 times, as was the case here, before being brought to ground. Quick ball and good vision from the backs sent the ball through hands to Gregor W who, with a tidy bit of sleight of hand, found Archie P, looped round and collected the return pass and scored in the corner.
Darts’ dominance continued into the 2nd half but the game was a bit disjointed, with seemingly endless penalties against. I freely admit that I’m the last person to judge on the right and proper interpretation of the laws so I’ll just have to accept that Darts did frequently stray offside and should maybe have sorted that out a bit better. It did seem to my untrained eye a bit one-sided though. No matter – on we went and a stolen line-out (one of umpteen in the match) went through Jonny and was taken on by Alex – evading tacklers with his mazy running style to score under the sticks. Converted by Jonny
More of the same. Massive pressure from Darts’ pack with James Daly featuring twice in the move before it was taken up by Michael and Sam, and eventually called out to the backs by Callum who fed Scott to his left for an easy run-in – the hard yards having already been gained by the massive forward effort. It’s a simple game, rugby, sometimes, and the best teams do the basics well and make it look easy.
Incredibly, given their dominance in the game, this turned out to be the final score. I’m not going to whinge about decisions (much ...) but one passage of play really deserved a better outcome. Right near the end, around 5 metres out, Sam called a 4-man line-out and Joe found Luke with his throw to the back (worth trying this one again I reckon) and from the drive, Elthamians were forced to concede a penalty. The much used tap-pen. dummy move via Callum, Joe, Michael and James bore fruit once again only for it to be disallowed. The referee gave the swinging-arm offside signal but told the team it was for a forward pass!! Any port in a storm I guess.
Anyway – fair play to the Old Elthamians players for keeping the score as respectable as it was – a spirited effort from them towards the end.
Man of the match: Close call for any number of players, particularly Gregor W who shepherded their danger player, his opposite number the winger, with great skill, but I’m going to say Jonny Regnier for his good tackling, positional and place kicking and direct running. Welcome back.