4th April Kent Vase Semi Final
Darts eventually got their Kent vase semi-final under way against Lordswood at Gravesend under lights and with 10 changes to the squad that played against Hastings at the weekend and were expecting a tough encounter. With debuts for Eze Onyekwere, James Bowmer and Alex Shea and a first start at prop for 18 year old Matt Randall Darts were going to see how their youth system was progressing with another batch of debutants. From the kick off darts controlled the ball well and drove Lordswood deep into their own half. Onyekwere was winning great ball in the lineout and from one of these darts powered over with Chris Nathanael touching down for the first score which was converted by Mike Briggs. Lordswood were under pressure and from this gave away a penalty mid field which was quickly taken by Mike Briggs who passed the ball along the line to Will Barker who outpaced the defence to score Darts second of the evening.
Lordswood were trying to compete in the lineout and this forced darts to change tactics and a quick low throw to Liam Bowmer at the front of the line saw the big 2nd row race 40 metres to score a fabulous try. Lordswood were strong in the forwards but kept turning over hard won ball in the backs with poor handling and inaccurate passing and darts were not shy to take advantage of this. Matt Randall was performing extremely well at prop and the Darts scrum was never under pressure and from another line kick Darts won the lineout for Nathanael to score his second try of the night which was identical to the first. Lordswood battled hard and had Darts under pressure at the end of the half however Darts defence has improved during the second half of the season and kept their line safe from any score.
Darts started the second half pretty much in the same way as the first looking to put Lordswood under pressure in their 22 and pounce on any mistakes. Eventually John Colmer made another powerful run in the centre and beat numerous defenders before touching down near the posts. Mike Briggs converted. Ricky Phillips was also making some great runs in the centre and the match was revolving a little around both of these players in the backs however it was wingers Will Barker and Babs Ojo whoscored the next two tries the first from a great run by Barker and the second when Mike Briggs saw space on the wing and chipped to the corner which allowed Babs to pick up and beat two defenders before scoring. Darts were down to 14 men when Alex Vousden was sin binned following a number of infringements by darts and this gave Lordswood the opportunity to put pressure on Darts but they were thwarted by continued excellent defence from Darts. Alex Shea was excellent and on a number of occasions his strength and awareness allowed him to turn over Lordswood ball when the team was under pressure. When back to full strength Darts continued putting on the pressure and Lordswood were now beginning to tire following their efforts and a try was scored by Matt Randall following another strong driving maul and at the death Tim Stagg charged over from 15 metres giving Darts their ninth try and a well deserved victory.
Man of the match was Eze Onyekwere whose lineout and general around the field play was excellent. Darts now face Gillingham Anchorians in the final on April 29th at Medway.