Tough day for Darts
By Dave Phillips
Darts travelled to local rivals
Darts travelled to local rivals Westcombe Pk hoping to repeat the result from earlier in the season despite suffering a few injuries from the previous week. It was good start from both sides but greater pressure in the early stages from Darts who were going through many phases and eventually forced a penalty which they kicked for touch. A good drive from the lineout saw the visitors go close to the line and another penalty was awarded. With thr free play Mike Briggs
chipped through and it was Ollie Edwards
who won the race and score with Briggo adding the conversion. 0-7. Although good play from Darts at the restart the ball was turned over and a high tackle was penalised and it was the turn of the home side to put on a good drive and force the try. 5-7. Darts continued to keep good control of the ball and forced another pen which unfortunately hit the bar but they regained control of th ball and when they were awarded another penalty Briggo slotted it over to take the score to 5-10. At this stage there was no indication that the game was going to turn around in the way it did. Greta play from Combe saw them move up the field and from the 22 they moved the ball to the backs and the home centre took advantage of a lapse in concentration in the visiting defence saw him glide over the line under the posts and the convert. 12-10. Darts were mking a few too many mistakes and gave away a penalty which allowed Combe to use their driving maul again to good effect to score in the corner 17-10. Darts hit back and looked pretty comfortable taking play into the Combe half and when it looked like they had created space a pass was interecepted ( not for the first time this season) and the powerful home winger ran in from 55 metres to score to take the score to 24-10. Again Darts took play back to Combe whose defence was turning out to be quite miserly but when they lost the ball a long clearing kick put the ball deep inside the Darts 22 and a great chase by the home winger put Kieran Ryan
under pressure and when the ball went out of play quick thinking saw Combe take a quick throw and score and take the half time score to 29-10. Darts had some bad luck in the half when early on both Anthony Cox
and Joe Wheeler
, who had been outstanding at Cobham, were injured and were replaced by Steve Garratt and making his debut Tom Adams
. This produced a shuffle around in the pack.
Darts started the second half really well and for the first 20 minutes of the half were embedded inside the Combe 22 as they went through their phase play but gain it was the defence of the hom side which kept Darts at bay. The pressure told and from a quickly taken penalty the ball was moved wide and after Ollie made a break he popped the ball to Kieran Sullivan-Day
who went over. Briggo converted to take the score to 29-17.
It looked likely that Darts would score again however as in the first half play turned around completely and good continuity play saw the ball moved to the centre of the field and a grubber completely wrongfooted the Darts defence and a good chase saw Combe score under the posts. 36-17. Darts kicked off and although the chase was decent some great interplay took play into the Darts half and the speedy home winger outpaced everyone to score in the corner. 41-17. This knocked the stuffing out of the visitors who although they kept trying looked tired at the end of the match and a weak try at the end saw Combe take the score to 48-17 and a well deserved victory.
A disappointing match for Darts who for large periods in both halves looked confident and strong with the ball but the major difference between the sides was defence and clinical finishing. Player of the match for Darts was Paddy Briggs
whose set piece work alongside endless carries stood out.
Darts will bounce back from this and hopefully the experience of London 1 this season will benefit them strongly in the future. Next weekend Darts entertain Tottonians in the final match of the season.