Great win against local rivals Westcombe Pk
By Dave Phillips
Darts entertained local rivals for what was believed to be the first time the teams had met in a league match knowing the result was really important following a good performance but disappointing result last week against Sevenoaks. With both teams experiencing different seasons last year it was going to be a good measure as to how far Darts have come on and hopefully give them confidence for the second half of the
season. The weather was appalling with the rain and wind ensuring it wasn't going to be a fast open flowing game of rugby and the home team started well and were unfortunate a small error resulted in a try being disallowed only for them to be awarded a penalty. It was though this kickstarted Park into action and they confidently moved up the field and with great back play moved the ball wide and scored the opening try in the corner and take the lead slightly against the run of play. 0-5. Darts hit back and got into their phase play keeping the ball tight in the poor conditions and were rewarded with a penalty that was converted by Mike Briggs
. 3-5. Darts were on the back foot again following a good long kick but Darts have built their defensive system well and and they in turn box kicked well to put play back into the Park 22.. It wasn't a clasiic match due to the weather which was causing numerous mistakes but the committment from both sides couldn't be denied. From a Park attack Ollie Edwards
put in a great tackle and held the ball up and managed to get the turnover. The pressure was then move up a level and this resulted in a yellow card for the visitors. The penalty was kicked into touch and from the lineout Darts drove the ball towards the try line and eventually it was Tom Duuggan who went over from close range. 8-5. Play was in between the 10 metre lines with both sides looking very
organised in defence but when a gap was seen in the centre of the field a well placed box kick rolled towards the line. As the defending Park player waited for the ball to go over the try line a great chase by Kieron Ryan saw the ball pop loose and was then passed to Ryan Chandler
who worked hard to get in support and went over for the second try. Mike Briggs
converted. The timing was great as the half time whistle went immediately to give Darts a half time lead of 15-5.
Park knew they were in a tough match and had to start the second half really well and they immediately got into the Darts half and using their big runners forced a penalty which narrowed the gap. 15-8. This didn't deter Darts who were looking dominant in the set piece and they moved quickly into the Park 22. The weather meant that the ball wasn't going to go too wide and it was now a war of attrition in the forwards with drive after drive attacking the Park line. The visitors defence was strong but again they were forced into conceding too many penalties and eventually the rferee had no choice but to issue another yellow card. This increased the pressure and despite using their forwards to try and batter over the line it ws Darts winger Liam Brencher
who went over after a weaving run to extend the lead to 20-8. Park now had to go all out to try and get something out of the match and they put everything into forcing a mistake. Darts despite being far smaller were incredibly well organised in defence and made tackle after tackle against some big forwards and this forced some mistakes which allowed Darts to clear their lines. This was the pattern for the remainder of the match but despite the pressure Park didn't really look like scoring. At the final whistle Park did get there reward with a try that gave them a bonus point but the spoils went to the home side who were well desrving of their win.
Following promotion into this league Darts are more than happy to finish the first half of the season with 7 wins from 13 matches and looking forward 2019 with great confidence.
A good performance from everyone in the team but man of the match went to Kieron Ryan who has moved to sc rum half in the absence of Danny Taylor.