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Great flowing rugby...

London League Two South

Cobham 18 Dorking 13

In a fabulous advertisement for Rugby at this level, the eagerly anticipated top of the table clash between the unbeaten leaders Dorking and second placed Cobham took place on a mild and windless afternoon, with the home side Cobham running out winners 18 points to 13 in an encounter that was as absorbing as it was thrilling. Cobham 1stsCobham 1stsCobham 1stsCobham 1stsCobham 1sts

With the touchline numbers swelled by the presence of 130 former players, who despite the rival attractions at Twickenham had turned out in force at lunch, prior to supporting the host side in this vital league match, the presence of two former Cobham captains, Ritchie Andrews and Jason Hoad in charge of the Dorking side only served to heighten the tension level before kick off.

A loud and vociferous crowd, tonsils perhaps loosened by a few glasses of wine before the match, where almost immediately silenced when the Dorking outside centre carved a gap in the Cobham defence with a well-placed kick and chase after only two minutes. Cobham managed to defend their line, but were forced to concede a scrum five metres out. Despite the impressive Cobham front five exploding through the attackers scrum, Dorking somehow managed to squirrel the ball away before their scrum half scrabbled through the loose for the opening score, for a 7 point lead after only three minutes.

From the restart, Dorking gave away an immediate penalty, missed by the young Jones- Davies at fly half; but a second attempt a mere sixty seconds later gave the hosts their first points, cutting the lead to four.

For the next twenty five minutes, the game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other. Cobham’s impressive front five demolishing the Dorking scrum on several occasions, Dorking’s impressive play in the loose giving little away. Eventually it took a little bit of magic to kick the scoreboard along. Just outside the Dorking 25, winger Blackmore came off his wing, creating an extra man in the midfield, and quick ball along the line, flicked on by Blackmore to fullback Sutton, gave him enough space to round and beat the remaining attackers for a score in the corner; superbly converted by Jones-Davies for a 10 – 7 lead. Cobham then gave away a penalty just before half time, before losing scrum half Franks with a knock to the head almost right on the half time whistle, and with scores even at 10 points each, the game was on a knife edge.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the second half started a little nervously. Both sides defences gave away nothing, the lineouts were shared, the main difference between the sides being the scrummage power of the Cobham front five, where loose head Andy Alexander had an immense afternoon in both tight and loose; and with Gus Darroch-Warren and Mark Bennett in the front row, dominated the Dorking scrum. Jones-Davies slotted another penalty after 10 minutes, to restore the lead to Cobham, but until the last few minutes, there was little between the sides.

With eight minutes left on the clock, after a prolonged period of pressure by Cobham, replacement scrum half O’Reilly moved the ball quickly from the ruck, flanker Matt Johnson popped up in midfield to create the extra man before putting winger Ritchie Blackmore into space out wide for a well taken try and an eight point lead. Dorking managed to claw back a penalty, but the game finished with a brief scuffle and a double yellow card for replacement flanker Cook from Cobham, and the replacement Dorking hooker.

Skipper Jack Davison and Coach Bill Davison will have been well pleased with the effort shown by the whole side; but second row Ben Pickett had an outstanding day, 18 year old fly half Ross Jones-Davies gave another assured and mature performance, and the whole side sweated blood for the cause. With the return match at Dorking only 5 weeks away, the Dorking pack will perhaps need some rapid counseling in order to put their mauling at the hands of the Cobham eight behind them, but otherwise this was an outstanding game played between two very evenly matched sides in an excellent spirit. Both looked like they belong at the head of the league table, and it would not be a surprise if they are both in the mix for promotion as the season comes to its conclusion.

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