Darts welcomed Belsize Pk for the first fixture between the clubs abd were facing an unknown quantity who had started well in London 1. Darts started well with play camped inside the visitors half and the continuity play was good against what was a well organised strong defence. Belsize were very quick to the breakdown and were clearly a very fit side who always had plenty of players at the breakdown and although Darts were controlling the ball well they were finding it tough to make a breakthrough. After about 20 minutes Darts looked like they were going to score from a great move but a knock on gave the ball away and the accomplished visiting half backs cleared the ball and an unfortunate penalty resulted in the visitors taking a 0-3 lead. Good play from Belsize saw them force another penalty to give them a 0-6 lead. Darts hit back despite having lost influential flanker Matt Randall to another cut to his eye. Sam Allen came on and immediately made an impact with some strong runs which took play into the visiting half. A very promising move was halted by a neck tackle which was unfortunately on the blind side of the referee and to make things worse the turnover gave Belsize an opportunity to counterattack and score a converted try to extend their lead to 0-13. This was pretty much against the run of play but it was clear that this was a tough and talented visiting team. Darts hit back with some great play from Robbie Smith and Luke Golding and further good pressure and control of the ball allowed Sam Allen to go over under the posts. Jonny converted. 7-13. It was a good match and pretty even but the penalty count against Darts was proving to be a problem as the defensive pressure from the visitors forced Darts to lose some discipline. A touch kick from one penalty saw the visitors use their driving maul to great effect and score their second try and extend their lead to 7-20 at half time.
Despite being behind Darts had shown enough to believe they could get back into the match but some poor decision making and a lineout which wasn't functioning well and this gave the visitors the opportunity to move the ball wide and score a third try. 7-27. To make matters worse for the home side Ollie Edwards was given a yellow card for killing the ball and increased the pressure on the team. Further pens conceded and Belsize saw the opportunity to stretch Darts and their ability to keep players in support of the ball carrier meant that Darts just ran out of players and a bonus point score came from close in. 7-34. It was clear that there were no apparent weaknesses in the visiting team with the forwards
fit fast and strong around the park and the delivery from the scrum half gacve their 10 an armchair ride with his long sharp passing. The game management was excellent with a combination of good kickking and face back play stretching a Darts team who were now chasing everything to get something out of the match. After some good pressure a long clearance kick bounced fortuitously for the visitors and the No 8 who looked as though he had only just started the match sprinted clear from halfway. 7-41. Darts continued to try and put together their phases and eventually they did create a gap for Jonny to score darts second try. 12 -41. At the end of the match Belsize with some great controlled and accurate play forced Darts back into their 22 and then finished the game off with a good team try under the posts. 12-48.
The tough start to the season continued for Darts who have faced some strong teams and have struggled to get consistency at selection but the quality is there in the team and they will turn things around. Belsize were a very talented and strong all round team who if they continue in the same way throughout the season will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season and deserved their victory.