Fittingly, perhaps on a day fit for ducks, that Vigo should break theirs – and before the Anatine Recognition Society (England) begin to superglue themselves to Harvel Road – I am of course speaking figuratively. No ducks were harmed in the production of this report.
So, back to the game. The balmy, short sleeved days of summer seem to be well and truly over, autumn heralded in on a water slide of a day. It p..ersistently rained all through the match. The hardy spectators sheltering beneath all manner of gamps and bedecked in all manner of rainwear. But the two teams managed to put together a pretty decent match considering the conditions. Vigo were still without their main fliers and were without a win so far, could have been forgiven to ground out a result but did try to move the ball a bit, as did Dover. The ball was greasy and there were frequent mishaps in handling, but Vigo made less mistakes than their visitors, to be fair.
Attacking the shallow end, Vigo went immediately on the attack. Nick McPherson, who has been in great form, explored the narrow side with a sharp break from the scrum. Too sharp for his support, so was forced to kick. Vigo remained on the attack, Dover trying to clear their lines but instead finding either Adam Fitzgerald or Ollie McSweeney-Atkins, who relished the counter. Tony Whitehead’s Crossfield kick was chased by Liam Wiltshire, forcing Dover to put the ball into touch on the 10 yard line. With the line out won, Vigo attempted a drive and when repulsed sundry players then took it upon themselves to drive for the line. Dover held their line, and continually defended well as Vigo strove hard. Some confusion arose amongst the crowd when Dover were twice forced back over their own line, resulting in goal line dropouts. This, apparently, is a new law but as I never learnt the laws in 40 odd years of playing, everything is a tad puzzling nowadays. But anyway, Vigo continued to enjoy most of the possession and were finally rewarded when Dover threw crookedly into a line out. Ben Moorhouse seized on the loose ball and drove over from five yards. Winstone converted, the crowd celebrated, moistly and noisily. Well, the Vigo crowd did. Credit to the few hardy souls supporting Dover. They had laughed in the face of the fuel fiasco to make the longish journey to the High Veldt, Although it has to be said, Vigo are almost their closest rivals in this League. The story about illegal immigrants arriving at Dover and being allowed ashore if they had a full jerry can of petrol is, apparently, untrue.
Dover, perhaps beginning to work out their jet lag fought back, scrum half George Sayers proving to be a sharp operator, Vigo’s scrum half George Cook having to keep his concentration. But Vigo resisted, Dave Winstone and Luke Henderson taking absolutely no prisoners. The pack took the fight to Dover, getting a great shove on in the scrums and getting their rolling mauls going to great effect. From a five-yard scrum, Vigo extended their lead. McPherson surging from the base, popping the ball to Winstone who smashed his way over, and then converting his own try. Dover fought hard but Vigo were hammering into the tackle, and with little decent ball Sayers did all he could to fashion a silk purse from a sow’s ear. (Again, figuratively. No pigs were harmed in the production of this report).
Half time reached with no further addition to the score. Only the bar of soap masquerading as a rugby ball stopped either Vigo from extending their lead or, on occasion, Dover making significant inroads. The half time dressing rooms were a contrast. Vigo’s quiet as the coaching team of Whitehead and Saunders went to work on the Vigo players. It must be said that Dover will be receiving a bill for the paint stripped from the visitors’ walls by their coach.
The two teams re-entered the lido, I mean pitch, with differing instructions. Dover moved Harry Moore to full back, where he proceeded to catch everything that came his way aerially. Understandably, Vigo kicked, awaiting a fumble at the back because of the conditions, but Moore certainly scuppered that plan. They made changes in the front row, too, and suddenly Vigo were not getting all their own way in the scrums. George Pugh was also making a thorough nuisance of himself, and Dover began to make progress. But Vigo’s defence held firm, Ben Buckland coming off the bench and putting in some hefty tackles.
Vigo were playing with great confidence and Dover began to be a tad discombobulated with the referee, who found fault at frequent intervals. Tony Whitehead used these penalties expertly, probing the touch lines, forcing Dover to try and counter from deep, but even Jacques Cousteau would have trouble in these conditions. Vigo remained on the front foot. Winstone surged forward, as Vigo kept the ball tight, and found Moorhouse on his shoulder who duly went over for his second.
Dover were down but by no means out. They fought hard to turn the tide, to weather the storm … alright, perhaps I’m labouring the point about the conditions. Anyway, Dover huffed, and they puffed but Vigo were in particularly stubborn mood. They held, they won, they celebrated.
Vigo team: O.McSweeney-Atkins (rep: O.Stringer); A.Fitzgerald, J.Clemmence, D.Winstone, L.Wiltshire; T.Whitehead (capt.), G.Cook; D.Norton, S.Smith (rep: B.Buckland), W.James (rep: W.Castle); B.Moorhouse, J.French; L.Henderson, D.Mickelburgh; N.McPherson.
Referee: Ben Shepherd (SEFed)
Scorers: Vigo: Tries: Moorhouse (16’, 65’), Winstone (30’). Cons: Winstone (2)
Man of the Match. On a day when at least half a dozen players were contenders in a superb team effort, Ben Moorhouse took the accolade. For Dover George Pugh was voted their MVP
Chris Lucas (Dover Manager). Vigo played the conditions and the referee better than us. We made critical mistakes which Vigo punished.
Dom Saunders (Vigo Asst. Coach) We played better in crucial areas. We were disciplined in executing our game plan, sticking to what we wanted. The players were, in fact, disappointed that they missed out on a bonus point, which speaks volumes for their mind set. We must now focus on a big game for us in two weeks’ time at Maidstone.
Guest GOM. Atrocious conditions but both teams handled well, Vigo possibly better than Dover. We attacked well, pressed well and when Dover reached our 22, the defence did well.