Interceptions proved to be game changers
by NICK ALWAY
CS were left to rue their generosity yet again in an exciting affair at Dorking’s Big Field in which the lead changed hands no less than six times. Unfortunately their four game unbeaten sequence was brought to an end as the home side closed out the final stages and the Stags were left with nothing at all to show for their labours despite playing some very good rugby indeed in patches.
It had all started so brightly with the Stags monopolising possession and playing some lively yet precise rugby, before seemingly inevitably taking a well-deserved lead through a try by debutant wing, Alfie Dudman-Jones which became 0- 7 following Tom Hodgson’s excellent touch line conversion. All that hard work – Dorking had done well to keep them out for so long - was immediately undone by some sloppiness in defence as Dorking’s almost first sortie into Stags’ territory yielded points, 5-7. And not long after Dorking found a gap in the Stags’ midfield to take the lead with a 7 pointer. This was reminiscent of the bad days of late autumn when the Stags’ defence had been so porous and the recent robustness of glorious January was nowhere to be seen, 12-7.
The home side were able to extend their lead with a penalty but this had now turned into a seemingly very even contest and with Tom Hodgson returning the compliment it was 15 -10 to the home side at the break.
There was some discussion about whether the gusting wind now favoured the home side : possibly marginally so, but mainly it seemed to be blowing across the pitch. The Stags reappeared bursting with vigour once more, seemingly soon in impressive charge of proceedings again and a series of muscular drives was rewarded with a try on a plate for CS’s other wing, Charlie Greene which Tom Hodgson again converted from wide out to retake the lead, 15-17. Dorking was very much the side on the back foot at this point and it was the Stags who one expected to see surging forward.
Not long afterwards, however, a calamitous interception pass was thrown and all the hard work was immediately undone , 22-17.
Not to worry, the side whose players still appeared to be holding the scalpel when they were not skewering themselves with it in the foot was back in the lead soon enough with a Tom Hodgson try which he converted, maintaining his impressive kicking form too, 22 :24.
But the merry-go- round had not stopped. Another interception pass – hugely optimistic in the aforementioned strong crosswind – was thrown and Dorking were again galloping in under the posts to take the lead 29-24. These were by no means the only instances of chances being taken by the Stags at this point in the proceedings and the last quarter belonged to the home side.
As CS became increasingly desperate Dorking tightened up their game and a penalty, taking the home side a score clear and a CS yellow soon followed and although CS were still sparking just there were to be no more spins of the wheel. A further CS try at that late juncture would have been worth two bonus points still but it was Dorking who had been playing the better rugby for a while now and they well and truly sealed it following another midfield line break leaving the visitors to ponder over what had happened to their seemingly much improved defence.
If anyone still wants to reflect on the ebbs and flows in the reverse fixture at Duke’s Meadows back in October : the Stags lost that game 37-38 after variously leading 24-3, 31-17 and 37-24! The games have not lacked entertainment certainly but Dorking’s beer will have tasted a good deal better!
This coming Saturday the Stags entertains Sidcup. Ko is 1430. Perhaps, and indeed hopefully, the home factor will again come into play. Sidcup are a well-supported club so do make it down to the club if you can in this international window to lend your support.