Exeter Athletic RFC 36 Dartmouth RFC 31
Dartmouth RFC come back from 29-0 down at Exeter Athletic and were unlucky not to snatch victory
Dartmouth RFC travelled to Oil Mill Lane, Nr Exeter to take on the recently formed Exeter Athletic RFC, who are made up of experienced players from Wessex and Bravelands Youth RFC. In the future plans, this club will be a feeder for Exeter Chiefs.
This was always going to be a tough game for Dartmouth, as the home side had previously beaten Torrington and Totnes.
Due to injuries and other commitments , Dartmouth travelled with only a squad of 17 , which meant players found themselves out of their normal positions.
It was not a good start for Dartmouth, as they took the field wearing the same colours as the home team.
The referee instructed, that the away team turn their shirts inside out and then pen their position numbers on their backs.
It was not a good day for kickers either , as a swirling wind swept across the field.
In the first half , against the wind , things got worse for Dartmouth.
The first 30 minutes of the game was controlled by the home side's number 10 Andy Alderman. His kicking and passing gained ground for the home sides forwards who with quality ball, ran at Dartmouth from all over the field.
With such quantity of ball , the home side scored their first try within 5 minutes.
There were some good early phases of play from Captain John Dingle, Korree Britton and Dec Hammond, but at this stage of the game, the Dartmouth gain line was being broken, and the team found themselves 29-0 down.
The home crowd were on their feet cheering, thinking that records might be broken.
However, Dartmouth had other ideas . They regrouped, dug deep and showed true grit and commitment .
Number 10 for Dartmouth Matt Hawkins now began to control the game with some fine touch kicks and chips upfield. The forwards raised their game and kept the ball tight, forming rolling mauls , whereby DIngle, Will Lockerbie made strong breaks resulting in the ball going wide to winger Jack Gordon who scored in the corner.
Matt Hawkins conversion .
Dartmouth came straight back and a high kick up field was gathered by the pack. A good run by sausage Hammond, supported by Korree Britton, saw the number 12 (normally a hooker) bulldozing himself over for a try.
Conversion Matt Hawkins.
Score half time 29-14 Exeter Athletic.
The half time team talk appeared to breathe more life and belief into the Dartmouth team as they came back onto the field.
Matt Hawkins continued guiding the team from number 10, but it was the Pack which kept together as a unit and they began battering the home sides defence, resulting in Korree Britton diving over for his second try.
Conversion Hawkins 29-21 Exeter Athletic.
There were some fantastic clearance kicks from full back Luke Chase, but any attacks from the home side were quickly smoothered out by strong Dartmouth tackling .
One such tackle resulted in winger Dan Greeno collecting a loose pass on the half way line and running down the touchline to score in the corner.
Dartmouth were back in the game 29-26.
Within 5 minutes Dan Greeno, was at it again. Luke Chase kicked up field, the ball was gathered by the home side, but a bad inside pass found Greeno who again set off up the touchline for a 50mtr individual try.
What a game 29-31 Dartmouth
The home crowd couldn't believe it.
With 15 minutes left and against the run of play, the home sides winger squeezed in the corner for a try. With wind assistance, the try was converted.
36-31 Exeter Athletic.
Dartmouth lost prop Jaime Kearney with an injury and the Pack was reshuffled to include Veteran 2nd row Andy Williams.
This only motivated the whole Dartmouth team and they knew that this was a game for the taking.
The Dartmouth forwards battered the home sides line, with DIngle and Korree Britton both going over the line, only for the tries to be disallowed , as the ref was unsighted .
The final whistle blew at 36-31 and Exeter Athletic knew that they were lucky to hang onto a win.
Dartmouth Club Chairman Dave Bradley said after the game,
"The club are very proud of the whole team. To be 29 points down and come back and almost snatch a victory was a credit to our commitment and team spirit. We can only build on this success.
The man of the match award must go to Dan Greeno who scored 2 great individual tries from 50 mtrs out.
Next week we look forward to welcoming Tamar Saracens to Norton Playing fields in the first round of the Devon Junior Cup.kick off 3pm.
I ask that all local Rugby supporters and the Town of Dartmouth come along and support us."
Dartmouth Rugby Football Club
Mob 07847 141 240.
Photograph by Freya Bradley.