Despite many changes the young Darts team performed really well against an accomplished
Despite many changes the young Darts team performed really well against an accomplished and big Brighton side. It was cleear from the start that the visitors were going to play a physical game and their big forwards took the ball on at every opportunity but the Darts tackling was extremely impressive. Despite their size the Brighton players were drivn back by the technically excellent Darts defenders. A grubber kick put the ball behind the Darts backline and put the home team under pressure. A quick lineout was taken by Brighton and Tom Duggan was harshly sin binned for a dangerous tackle when he had no idea the player was jumping into him and looking in the oppsite direction. This was going to be a problem for Darts and the extra player was used really well by Brighton who scored a converted try under the posts. 0-7. Darts put in a good period of play taking the ball on in the forwards and backs taking play into the Brighton half but the penalty count seemed very highwhich relieved the pressure. Darts conceded a penalty which extended the lead to 0-10. Play was pretty even with both sides playing expansive rugby and giving the crowd a lot to cheer for. Another penalty was converted by the excellent Brighton fly half who was directing play well. 0-13. Darts were very competitive in the scrum and lineout and a 25 metre line Smiler in the lineout but an error from a Brighton playerwho took him out in the air and ayellow vcard was given. Another good lineout and a great move in the backs saw Ash go over for a well deserved try. 5-13. There was more pressure from the visitors whose passing was very quick and they were held up over the line but further pressure saw the ball moved and eventually the fly half had space to go over and convert . 5-20. A good first half of rugby with the visitors deserving the lead but Darts made the league leaders work for every yard and were still in the match.
The second half was a more even affair with both sides again moving the ball nicely but the visitors always had the option of bringing in their big forwards to tie in the Darts defenders Liam Brencher had two great runs which could have resulted in tries but good defending from the wing and full back just stopped the chabces. Darts were on the front foot moving the ball quickly and away from the big opposition forwards and this resulted in Brighton conceding a penalty. Darts kept the pressure on from another good lineout and after a number of driving mauls the referee was forced to award a well deserved penalty try. 12-20. It looked like it was game on now but Brighton are not league leaders for noithing and strong continuity play saw them go over in the corner much to the relief of their supporters on that side of the pitch. 12-25. All the Darts team were playing really well and standing up to the pressure really well but mention should be made of out two 19 year old back row players Matt Williamson and Kieran Clarke coming into the team for their first full matches and looking really comfortable. Brighton had not got a great deal out of punching through in the centre but when they had their prop and flanker their receiving the ball their sheer power got them go forward ball and a try under the posts . 12-25. Great spirit still from the team with Tom Ball amd Billy Wilson coming off the bench taking good go forward ball and with the ball being moved sharply in the backs the last 6 or 7 minutes belonged to the home side . When the ball was taken on strongly in the forwards and then moved quickly wide a neat kick through from Joe Scott was gathered by Ash who popped inside to the excellent Kieran Ryan who scored a great try. Mike Briggs converted to give a final score of 19-32.
A fantastic performance by the young Darts team against the best team we have played this season and the opposition at the end were well aware they had been in an extremely tough match. It has been a hard number of weeks against the leagues best sides but Darts have shown they have the spirit and technical ability to play in this league and will continue to improve as we profress to the end of the season.
Quilter Kids First Champions winner – February: Henley Hawks RFC