Shoots 25 Dartfordians 22
21st April 2012 Kent 1 League match
Darts had to travel to Shoots and win with a bonus point to have any chance of getting into second place in Kent 1 in their last league match of the season. The game started brilliantly for Darts with their backs causing Shoots all sorts of problems and penning them back into their own 22 for the first 25 minutes of the match. The ball was moved quickly
fter 5 minutes a great move by darts saw the Shoots defence stretched and the ball was moved slickly to winger Will Barker
who went over in the corner for his 10th try in 11 matches. It looked like Darts would score every time they had the ball in the backs and desperate defence by Shoots kept the score at 5 – 0. Darts were awarded penalty after penalty and eventually having taken lineout ball straight off the top took a shortened ball in a maul and Chris Nathanael
put the ball down after a great driving maul.
Darts were in total control and had not been in their own half despite playing against the wind but Shoots managed to put a big kick down field and from a lineout 20 metres out kept good control of the ball using their big players to great effect. After 5 minutes of pressure darts conceded only their 2nd penalty of the match and Tim Stagg
was rather harshly sin binned. This gave Shoots all the impetus they needed and with a man down Darts had to try and stem the flow which was tough against such a big side. Shoots then created the opportunity to score in the corner to bring the score back to 10-5. Minutes later Darts infringed on the half way line and Shoots kicked for touch. The kick was short and the unlucky Gav Renno tried to keep the ball in play only to find the Shoots winger who scored their second try to level the match. Darts still had opportunities to score again in the first half but were a bit shell shocked at the turnaround and bad technique meant they turned the ball over on too many occasions.
Darts started the second in good form but soon lost the impressive Matt Randall but had Dan Coshall to bring on at prop. The game was nip and tuck with two contrasting styles, Darts trying to move the ball wide and Shoots using their big runners and keeping the ball tight. Unfortunately for Darts they were not quite as clinical as they had been in previous weeks and turned the ball over too frequently trying to rush things instead of keeping patience and wait for the gaps to appear. Shoots however were really into their game plan and were rising in confidence and after having pressurized Darts into further mistakes had the visitors under intense pressure within their 22. Darts defence was strong but something had to give eventually and it was Shoots who battered over to take the lead with a good forwards try. Darts had to dig in now as Shoots had their tails up but could not find that cutting edge and it was just their luck when having made a change in the backs they lost Tony Mead
to injury. This meant the hard working Joe Wheeler
had to move from flanker to wing taking away some of darts tackling power that was needed to thwart Shoots. Tyler Roberts
who had been ill prior to the match came on and bravely put his head on the block but Darts had lost some of their rhythm. Again it was the Shoots pack who were causing all the problems and they were wheeling the scrums cleverly to give themselves a blindside to attack and big No 8 Dave Viney took full advantage and again it was Shoots ability to keep control of the ball with their driving rucks and mauls who scored another try to stretch the lead to 10 points. Darts bravely came back at the home side and were really pushing to get back into the game and it was hoped that the big Shoots forwards would tire allowing Darts to get some phases going. After some good play Darts did find the gaps and John Colmer
finally battered his way through in the centre to score Darts third try near the posts which was converted by Mike Briggs
. It was now only a 3 point difference and a try would give Darts the lead and a bonus point for 4 tries and they were having a real go but again inconsistent skill levels allowed Shoots to get easy ball to work with. Again the big forwards put the visitors on the back foot and again a cleverly wheeled scrum allowed the 8 to pick up draw the defence and a pass from him to scrum half and then to the winger saw a 5th Shoots try in the corner. Darts were still not finished and another strong run from Colmer saw him score the important 4th try for Darts but it was too late and the match was won by Shoots 25-22.
An absorbing match which should have seen Darts way ahead in the first 30 minutes however having ridden their luck during that time Shoots showed great character and strength to deservedly win the game. Their execution of their game plan was better than Darts on the day and the visitors will rue the fact that their execution and decision making was not at it’s best on the day. A disappointing end of the league season for Darts but 3rd place is a decent effort especially with a Kent vase Final coming up next week against League Champions Gillingham