Dorking travelled to Bishops Stortford knowing they would face a stern test as the home team were in a vein of good form in contrast to the visitor’s struggles of the past few fixtures. Stortford are a friendly town club with a similar strong emphasis on developing players from their youth and mini sections – so the scene was set for an interesting match between two teams looking to maintain a top half of the table position.
Dorking started well – a Stortford scrum in middle of the pitch was shunted back and Dorking stole the ball – a couple of passages of play - another Stortford scrum – same result – things looked promising.
But then Stortford started to show why recent results have gone their way. Getting into the Dorking half Stortford controlled the ball well at the breakdown and Dorking were caught offside and the penalty was converted 3-0.
The Stortford game plan of using their big back row to take the ball up into to contact and commit the Dorking row to the breakdown meant space was being created out wide and the impressive home team backs moved it well and the right wing ran well to score out wide – the conversion was missed 8-0. A good 5 minute spell for Dorking with some fluency and attacking flair with ball in hand created some real pressure and Stortford were pinged at the break down - Noble missed from out wide.
With 20 mins gone the game entered what was to be the defining period of the match. Dorking had their fair share of the possession but for some inexplicable reason chose to kick the majority of it away - with most of the kicks finding one of the impressive back three for Stortford. This allowed Stortford to consistently run the ball back to the Dorking half. Inevitably on the back foot, Dorking gave away a penalty which was converted, 11-0. Dorking hit back almost immediately with a penalty of their own – 11-3 but an accidental high tackle allowed Stortford to kick a penalty and have a half time lead of 14-3.
So needing a strong second half Dorking continued with their kicking game and Stortford put the pressure back on Dorking. A quick Stortford line out and the ball was moved along the backs to give the wing a run in at the corner – converted 21-3 and Dorking now had a mountain to climb.
Keeping the ball in hand in order to chase the game Dorking looked much more dangerous and from a quickly taken penalty Love broke through and drew the full back before putting the supporting Noble in under the posts – who got up to convert – 21-10. But hopes for a remarkable comeback were stifled when Dorking failed to catch the re-start and Stortford got possession and won a penalty – 24-10.
Now chasing a losing bonus point Dorking were trying to run everything but the strong Stortford defence forced the turnover and a try was again scored out wide – conversion missed 29-10.
Dorking finally up the aggression levels at the breakdown and with a steady pressure it was all Dorking for the final 15 mins. Stortford lost one of their back row to a yellow card for an early tackle and the penalty was kicked to the corner. From the line out a well executed catch and drive put Roux over the line and Noble converted 29-17.
Dorking pressurised again from the restart and a sustained period of pressure on the Stortford try line ended up with Munford – who was making his debut from the bench – going over unopposed - Noble converted 29-24 - 3 mins to go.
Sadly it was not to be and the Stortford kicker broke Dorking hearts with a late penalty to deny the visitors a losing bonus point - 32-24 at full time.
No excuses - Dorking were well beaten in the end by a good Stortford team who took their chances well. Coach Andrew will be disappointed that this team seem to have lost their edge and that the good early season form is only seen in patches. No match next weekend but much to do in terms of tactical kicking, aggression levels and first up tackling.
Bishops Stortford Match Report here
Team: 1. Ben Knight (Sponsored by BamBam)2. James Catton (The Cooper family)3. Tom Bristow (The Bristow family)4. Qin Wiseman (St John's School, Leatherhead)5. Matt Higgins (Bob White)6. Armand Roux (The Running Horses, Mickleham)7. Will Brown (Sponsorship available)8. Harry Watts (Abacab)9. Will Crow (The Running Horses, Mickleham)10. Matt Noble (The Running Horses, Mickleham)11. Ryan Lucas (Barber One)12. Simon Love (Sponsorship Available)13. Ryan Jeffery (Space Change Management)14. Mike Terelak (The Falkland Four)15. Jake Presley (Brian Sworn) 16. Nick Marlow (Sponsorship available)17. Ben Lucas (Mick Williams)18. Steve Munford (Duraloc)Coach. Richie Andrews (Sponsored by Jason Hoad)Team Manager. Ian Newcastle (Sponsored by Mrs Newks)