DOVER 21 V HOVE 20
Report by mark finnis
Photos by Ian Shilson
Dover’s first league match for a month was played under perfect conditions. Their visitors Hove buoyed by their victory over top of the table Chichester had reported on their website that this game was already won, this added the fuel to the fire and fired Dover up. Dover had to make changes from recent weeks players a number of players unavailable due to injury and other commitments. Nineteen year old Jack Ayling
made his first team debut, Sam McNamara
made a welcome return and veteran Greg Hewer
was dusted off and wheeled out as front row replacement.
Hove had the advantage of the slope for the first half and kicked off under the Crabble sun. The ball in Dover possession they kept it tight but were penalised within the first minute. Hove kicked for goal and took a very early 3-0 lead. From Phillips restart Hove showed their intention using the slope and the boot to pin Dover back. Dover initially showed a lack of cohesion possession often turned over with scrappy errors. Every time Dover crossed the half way line with ball in hand they conceded a possession. Hove used their backs to attack the Dover line, stern tackling from Ayling, Sedgwick and “Trigger” Davison help stem the flow. Dover however were still struggling to click and concede possession just 10 metres from their line. Hove seized on the opportunity to score under the posts, the try converted Dover trailed by 10 points. Richard Hayward
applied pressure from the restart and won possession for Dover, Dave Sluman
and Danny Robinson
carrying the ball forward at last Dover were in the Hove 22. Dover played through the phases, Hove was caught offside and Dover awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Phillips kicked for goal and pushed it wide summing up Dover’s display so far. Hove again pushed Dover back with the 22 dropout and would again have to attack from deep. Sedgwick took up the challenge assisted by Davison they pressed forward. The Dover pack controlled possession through Cooper. Crawford spun the ball wide and Dover looked to have scored in the corner but play was brought back for a forward pass and a Hove scrum. Again Hove kicked deep the ball finding touch just 10 metres from the Dover line. Dover won the lineout and cleared the ball just outside their 22. Dover stole Hove’s lineout through Sluman, Moore and Cooper punching holes to gain territory. Phillips kicked to the corner and Dover were back within 5 metres of the Hove line. Dover again failed to make territory count and Hove tried to run the ball from deep. Dover managed to stop their momentum on halfway but was caught off side. With a minute of the half remaining another kick at goal Dover trailed at half time 13-0.
Dover had in effect handed Hove 13 points through silly mistakes this game was still winnable but Dover had to start playing with composure and use the slope to their advantage. With words of encouragement from Head Coach Tonks ringing in their ears Dover lined up for the second half. Phillips kicked to get the game back under way; Hove retained possession and carried on where they left off forcing Dover back. Dover struggled to gain possession, when they did forced to kick to gain a territorial advantage. There were glimmers of hope but again the handling let Dover down. Hove pushed on turning Dover’s defence with kicks deep. Sedgwick at full back tried to chip and run out of defence unfortunately the ball was gathered by the Hove winger who scampered clear to score under the posts again converted Dover now trailed by 20 points. Many thought that was the game over but some of us still believed 3 converted tries required. Skipper Tonks encouraged his men forward he believed and so did they. Hove tried to run the restart back at Dover a forward pass rewarded Dover a scrum 30 metres out. Davison picked up from the base and attacked blind, stopped 15 metres out, Dover were knocking on the door 4,5,6 phases but still no way through, Hove were eventually caught off side. A quick tap and go Robinson on the charge. Stopped Dover tried to go again but were accidentally offside and Hove would have the put in at the scrum. Dover turned over the scrum, Davison picked up at the base and Crawford crashed over in the corner, Phillips brilliantly converted from out wide the fight back was on Dover now trailed 20-7. Dover pressed again from the restart, Davison inspirational going forward and Dover having numbers to attack wide. A chip and chase rolled dead and Hove would again kick long the ball finding touch on halfway. Dover knocked on but from resultant scrum Ayling turned over possession in midfield and was then awarded a penalty. Phillips kicked to touch giving Dover a lineout 10 metres out. The chance of attack was again repelled and play taken back to halfway. Coach Tonks makes his first changes with 15 minutes to go McNamara replacing the injured Hayward and Hewer replacing Lucas in the front row. Was this the master stroke it appeared to be. Mcnamara made an instant impact, he carried the fight making 30 metres with his first charge, inspired the rest followed 6 phases of go forward ball Dover spun it wide Beaumont going over in the corner. Phillips again converting from out wide Dover now trailed by 6 points. Seven minutes to go Dover secure possession and keep it tight crossing half way. Crawford moves the ball to the backs but Hove are up quick and force the error, Dover conceding the scrum. Kicker Phillips limps off injured Suter replaces him and Dover rejig their back line. Dover manage to turnover possession a chip from Sedgwick gathered by Townley stopped a metre short Dover concede the scrum. Hove won the scrum and looked to run the ball, Dover tackled back eventually stopping them just 30 metres from the Dover line, McNamara turned over possession and ghosted through the defence. Two minutes to go and Dover were back on the Hove 22, two more phases and Dover strike the ball again out in the back winger Beaumont scores his second try, Dover 19 Hove 21 the conversion to go. Goal kicker Phillips had left the field, debutant Ayling a kicker in his own right volunteered. A kick to win, most of us couldn’t watch but Ayling was the calmest man in Crabble, the kick was on its way, it was over, all in Crabble erupted. 30 seconds on the clock Dover secure the restart and wait for the referee to call last play, Crawford kicks to touch, let the celebrations begin.
Dover had shown great pride, passion and spirit to come back from 20 -0 down. Special mentions for their performances go to Hewer who came on to steady the scrum, Sam McNamara
for his instant impact, Mark Beaumont for his two tries. Jack Ayling
and his nerves of steel for kicking the winning points and finally Dover’s man of the match selected by match sponsor P&O “Trigger” Davison for another inspirational display.
Next week Dover is again at Crabble to host promotion chasing Old Elthamians, kick off 14.30.
COOPER, MOORE, LUCAS (HEWER), ROBINSON, SLUMAN, TONKS (Capt), HAYWARD (McNAMARA), DAVISON, CRAWFORD, PHILLIPS ( SUTER), ANNAKIE, AYLING, TOWNLEY, BEAUMONT, SEDGWICK.
TRYS: CRAWFORD, BEAUMONT x 2
CONVERSIONS: PHILLIPS x 2, AYLING