This was probably one of the most important matches
This was probably one of the most important matches of the season with both teams wanting the win to give them breathing space in the battle to stay in London 1. It was a fast start to the match in perfect conditions with both teams turning the ball over however Cobham were looking sharper and having the better of the play but great defence from Darts kept the home side at bay and a turnover 2 metres from the try line allowed Darts to clear. The pressure from Cobham forced Darts to concede penalties and kept them on the back foot and from one Cobham took a kick for touch and the lineout deep inside the Darts 22. Darts in fact stole the ball but again Cobham were sharper and pounced on the loose ball and scored in the corner followed by a great conversion to take a 7-0 lead. From the kick off a box kick was not gathered by Darts and a quick counterattack saw the impressive home backs combine brilliantly to score their second try to stretch the lead to 12-0. From their first period with possesion Darts went through the phases before Ollie made agreat break and took play deep into the opposition 22. Cobham's defence was excellent but the power of Darts forced a penalty.Bravely Darts opted for a scrum and showed their power and technique forcing another penalty and from the subsequent scrum Darts again powered on ,eventually from the third scrum it was No 8 Tyan Chandler who scored from the driving scrum and Mike Briggs converted. 12-7. From the kick off darts collected the ball and put in a clearing kicjk which bounced nicely for the home side and the inmpressive Cobham centtre ran in from half way to score and stretch the lead to 17-7. At this time it looked like the home side would be the only winners with their quality backs looking in control despite their team having to work really hard to get hold of the ball in the set piece. The second half started and from the off it looked a differnt match with Darts starting to exert extreme pressure on Cobham keeping the ball tight and created a good chance 5 metres from the line but this went begging when the ball was dropped. Darts were really getting into the match now and it seemed their fitness levels were starting to have a positive impact for the team and the pressure from the forwards was stretching the home defence and despite determined defence after numerous drives an inside pass found Kenny Lee who went over under the posts. Mike again converted. 17-14. Cobham hit back immediately and when they chased the restart and put the pressure on the Darts reciever they forced a penalty which they converted to take the score to 20-14. This only inspired Darts to take the game again to Cobham and the forwards were totally in charge. The front row of Chapman, Cooksley and Vousden were totally dominant and their work was backed up by great work from the driving runs from Kenny Lee , Smiler and Tom Ball. With Sam Allen, who in the first half was powerful in the centre, now using his abilty with the ball in hand at No 8 this was keeping Cobham on the back foot and after numerous attempts it was winger Liam Brencher who popped up and drove over the line. Mike again converted to give Darts the lead fro the first time 20-21. Darts brought on Tozer Cox ,making his debut, and Paddy Briggs who just increased the power in the pack after Tom Ball and young Matt Williamson had to leave the field through injury. Play was predominantly in the Cobham 22 and only small mistakes stopped a further score. A great take from Joe Scott saw Darts take the ball on again and again it was only stout defence that kept the team at bay. Kieran Sullivan-Day came on for his first match for 18 months and showed his qualityand hopefully his injuries are in the past. Darts were playing some great controlled rugby with their forwards in complete control and from another dominant 5 metre scrum it was Sam Alln who put the ball down. Mike's conversion took the lead to 20-28 with less than 10 minutes to play. With nothing to lose Cobham threw everything at Darts and pinned the visitors deep in their 22and it was Darts turn to defend which they did untill some great play from the home side saw their full back find a gap and use his footwork and pace to score to take the score to 25-28. With 3 minutes to go it was all about Darts keeping control of the ball which they did with skill and power and went through 21 phases to close the game out to give them a valuable bonus point win. Cobham deservedly to come away with 2 bonus points and on another day could have could have won the match themselves. A fantastic match with two very contrasting styles played in an extremly competitive but fair way and hopefully both clubs will be playing each other next season. Darts had not visited Cobham since the mid 80's when Cobham were Old Surbitonians and the reception and hospitality was as we all remembered and it was a pleasure to see some old faces from those days and we look forward to meeting again next season. A great match for Darts and difficult to pick player of the match and in the end it was given jointly to Sam Cooksley who was in the thick of the forward play throughout and also to Joe Wheeler who had taken the captaincy for the day and combined that with an excellent all round display of open side flanker play. Next weekend Darts host local rivals and promotion candidates Sevenoaks in what will be yet another extremely tough fixture.