Important win for Darts
By Dave Phillips
Darts travelled to Chichester
Darts travelled to Chichester on a cold,wet and blustery day with both sides knowing this was an important match. Chichester started well with their strong runners in the back row forcing Darts to tackle at their best and it was their blindside who made good ground forcing Darts to concede a penalty which was converted by the home fly half. 0-3. Darts had a strong driving maul keeping the ball close in the conditions and when they competed well at the restart they also worked well at the ensuing lineout and when the home side knocked on it was time to see how the pack would stand up at scrum time. The scrum was very powerful but penalised for wheeling? From the lineout Chichester put in what looked like a speculative kick but Darts looked slow to react and failed to touch the ball down when it went over the try line and the sharp home backs pounced to score a soft try and extend their lead to 8-0. This seemed to spur the visitors on and straight from the kick off they won the ball back and started going through their phases. Eventually the pressure told and Chichester were forced to concede a penalty which was dispatched by the returning Jonny Regnier
. 8-3.The Darts scrum was totally dominant and were driving the opposition off the ball forcing another penalty which was kicked for position. Unfortunately the throw was crooked but Chichester opted for a line out but Darts won the ball and drove the home team back again. Another penalty gave Darts a lineout again which this time they won and went through many powerful phases and eventually the ball was held up over the line. From the 5 metre scrum darts surged forward and the home pack totally collapsed and the referee had no choice but to give a penalty try to give Darts the lead.8-10. The restart went straight into touch giving Darts yet another scrum which again put the home pack under intense pressure which again resulted in a penalty which was narrowly missed by Jonny. The back row were doing sterling work with Tom Duggan
, Si Briggs and Joe Wheeler
putting in some great hits and turning over good ball. At this stage it was great defence and strength at the breakdown that were keeping the home side in the match. A fantastic break by the home centre saw him break through heading for the darts 22 but a great tackle from Kieran Ryan
brought him down. There were small mistakes from both sides which favoured Darts as their scrum was demolishing their opposition and this gave the visitors numerous penalties which resulted in a warning from the referee. The half ended with an unfortunate injury to the home prop which delayed the second half for approximately 25 minutes. Fortunately it appeared that the injury was n't as serious as first feared and we wish him a speedy recovery.
The question was if the delay was going to impact either of the sides but the second half started at a pace following everything being moved onto the adjacent pitch Both teams were going for it but again it was the powerful Darts scrum which forced a penalty that Jonny kicked into the corner. A good take and drive at the lineout saw Joe Wheeler
go over for Darts second try. Jonny hit a great conversion from the touchline to take the score to 8-17. At this stage it seemed to all spectators that Darts would go onto extend their lead and win the match but the home team found some extra determination and came back at the visitors with some great play and went through phase after phase pinning Darts back in their 22. Over the past few seasons Darts have shown great character when under pressure and they didn't disappoint today defending for all they were worth and holding the ball up over the line. A poor decision from the home side moving the ball wide when points were on offer allowed Darts to clear their lines. This was certainly the home teams best period of the match and they drove strongly through their forwards but they couldn't quite find the killer pass to open up the defence. A great tackle then turnover from Liam Brencher
relieved the pressure and moved play upfield. Darts scrum was still dominant but Chichester were not giving away penalties and the tide seemed to have turned as Darts were being penalised more and getting turned over and a penalty saw the gap closed to 11-17. It was now very tense and although the weather didn't allow for fast flowing rugby the match was certainly keeping the spectators on their toes. Another good scrum from Darts saw the ball going to Mike Briggs
who put in a nice reverse kick to Liam Brencher
who raced 50 metres and it looked like it would be another try to close the match but again great defence stopped him and the supporting Ollie Edwards
and the final scrum was won and the ball kicked out of play to give the visitors an important win.
A disappointment for the home side who worked really well in the second half and on another day may well have got more out of the game but on balance with the power of their pack Darts just about deserved the win.
Man of the match was given to Paddy Briggs
for his part in the powerful scrum as well as his continued availability to take the ball on close when the team needed to reorganise and numerous crucial tackles.