Hertford v Dorking
Having won the toss Dorking elected for the kick off and with a well-placed kick with plenty of height, the chasing team exerted pressure on the receiver, leading to a spilled ball for the home side directly from the kick off. Not the best of starts. With the scrum advantage Dorking secured possession and began to exert to pressure on the outside flank, only for the ball to be spilled on the second phase.
The match continued with a series of unenforced errors by both sides resulting in plenty of scrums. The visitors were dominating the early stages and a big drive forced Hertford pack back, leading directly to a penalty. Dorking opted to kick for touch resulting in a lineout 5 metres from the Hertford's try line a problem area for the home side in recent matches, but something that was worked on during the week. The catch and drive was very well defended and the maul was halted in its tracks. This was a big moral boost for Hertford as the attacking side knew that a different strategy would be needed to break the home side's defence.
Fifteen mins into the game Hertford finally started putting some good phases of play together, maintaining good shape and attacking with width. It was plain to see that the visitors were defending very narrow and with Hertford’s attacking style points were on the horizon, however, once again Hertford's discipline let them down with a series of unnecessary penalties given away in open play, resulting in set piece stalling their momentum. Dorking also started moving the ball but without much success, mainly due to many unenforced errors and strong defence from the home side.
Hertford’s first points came around the 20 mins mark. A dominant Hertford scrum just inside Dorking’s half resulted in a sniping run down the blind side from Hertford’s number 9, with perfectly timed support from Hertford’s 15 Sean Taylor the defence was opened up and a well-executed 2 v 1 allowed Hertford winger Jack Mitchell to score in the corner. A perfectly struck conversion from Taylor sailed through the posts to give Hertford a 7-0 lead.
The visitors started to gain dominance in the set piece, but failed to capitalise with several mistakes occurring from the base of the scrum coupled with some poor decision making. Despite the continuous high penalty count, Hertford finally started to build momentum working the ball up deep into Dorking’s territory. This lead to some excellent attacking play and a sublime offload by Jack Elston split their defence wide open. Hertford switched the attack resulting in a “poachers try” in the corner for Hertford’s number 9. The conversion was missed but Hertford lead 12-0 with 30 minutes on the clock.
Dorking once again responded well, keeping hold of the ball for long periods, but Hertford stood resolute keeping out wave after wave of attack, unfortunately after 13 phases Hertford gave away another penalty 5 metres out. The continued pressure resulted in a well-executed try in the corner for the visitors and well taken conversion to take the score to 12-7.
Half time score 12-7
Hertford made some changes at half time with Stuart Smart replacing Aaron Lowe in the centre and Harry Morgan on for Josh Hewitt in the front row.
The second half started brightly for the home side making several damaging forays stretching the visitors defence into make a number of last ditch tackles to prevent Hertford from scoring. Relentlessly positive play from Hertford, eventually broke Dorking down resulting in a powerful burst from Dan Belton to crash over the whitewash. Taylor added the conversion made it 19-7.
Hertford continued to hold their shape and started to punch bigger holes in the visitors defensive, but poor handling and execution of final pass cost Hertford a couple of try scoring opportunities.
Dorking responded playing good rugby, whilst maintaining territory and lively creative play of their own. This resulted in number of line breaks that went unpunished due to unenforced handling errors.
The game then entered a period of ten minute of very scrappy play form both sides leading to player frustration from both teams and the referee stepping in!
Another dominant Dorking scrum resulted in a penalty to the visitors and a yellow card for the Hertford tight head Geoff Hughes. Again Dorking failed to capitalise opting to kick for touch only for Hertford’s robust defence to earn themselves a penalty and relieve the pressure.
With fatigue setting in the game really started to open up. Hertford built momentum and phase after phase created numbers out wide, but yet again failing to capitalise due to some sloppy handling errors. Dorking responded with some good attacking moments themselves, which were either halted by the home-sides robust defence or sloppy handling errors of their own.
Like Hertford, whenever Dorking started to gain momentum, poor execution when it mattered cost them dearly.
None more so when a yellow card was awarded against Dorking for not retreating 10 metres. A quick tap penalty, in the visitors red zone saw the lively Hertford 9 striking down the blind side to pop to the rampaging Torran MacDougal, who hit an exquisite line to dive over untouched to secure the bonus point for the Hoe Lane side. The ever reliable boot of Taylor converted to take the score to 26-7 with 10 mins remaining.
Hertford were not yet finished, and after some more positive rugby and several phases saw James Kinsley hit a great line at pace and sprint untouched from 30 metres out to take the final Score to 31-7.
Hertford sit 3rd in the table 1 point behind Tring and level with Barnes.