Combe pull away from Darts for a convincing win
By Mark Ley
Westcombe Park RFC 48-17 Dartfordians RFC
If the game at Darts had been a turgid affair hampered by dreadful weather and a quagmire of a pitch, the match at Goddington Dene benefited from calmer weather and a pitch conducive to a fast running game. Combe were better able to make the most of this with a new and well oiled halfback partnership making the most of good ball served up by a domineering home pack.
That having been said, it took Westcombe Park half an hour to get their noses in front. The home side had started strongly making Darts concede a series of penalties but any advantage was snuffed out when the visitors held up a Combe maul. Dartfordians then pressed on their own behalf. From a lineout deep in Combe territory Darts no 10 Mike Briggs dinked a grubber between the posts for a simple touchdown for centre Ollie Edwards which was converted.
5 minutes later, and with the first quarter of the match coming to a close, Combe hit back. A penalty was kicked deep in the corner and the drive made ground with the ball then going through a couple of phases for burly lock Dylan Eames to crash over. Darts pressed again and were quicker to react when a kick for goal bounced back off the crossbar. Combe stopped the resultant attack illegally and Darts elected to kick from right in front of the posts. 5-10 to Darts with 25 minutes gone.
The rest of the half belonged to Combe as their pick and drive game made good yardage. On the contrary when Darts tried the same there was more huff and puff and little yardage gained thanks to the defensive effort of all eight in the Combe pack with the evergreen James Lindfield to the fore. Combe's cause was also helped by debutant scrum half Ben Fryatt's zippy pass and speed to arrive at the breakdown. Combe scored on 30 minutes from quality ball from a line out. Great running lines were taken by the backs to put Ryan Fuller through a huge gap to score beside the posts making the conversion for Matt Harrison straightforward. 12-10 to Combe.
On 35 minutes Lindfield scored at the back of the pack following a great catch and drive from a lineout. Almost directly from the kick off, Bradley Saffrey pounced on the ball as Darts were too cumbersome moving the ball, to run in behind the posts for the score which Harrison kicked. Finally, Fryatt marked a hugely impressive debut half by his speed of thinking after a lineout in the corner was taken quickly. He ran through a disorganised Dartfordians defence for the try to make the score 29-10 at the halftime whistle with the try bonus point secure.
Darts had most of the possession and territory for nearly the opening 20 minutes of the half. But, as in the first half, they struggled to make this tell with twin props Simmonds resolute in defence. Combe went down to 14 men when the defence buckled and a late hit saw a yellow card produced. Darts took advantage of the extra man and narrowed the gap to 29-17 when centre Kieran O'Sullivan-Day produced a bamboozling step and was in for they try which was converted you Briggs.
Combe were to stretch away in the last 15 minutes as they had done in the first period. Saffrey showed great strength to power through the Darts defence, fed Harrison who placed a cheeky chip through the advancing defence for centre Sam Atiola to score. Harrison kicked the conversion. With 10 minutes to go Eames bundled through, passed to fellow forward Milligan who made ground in his inimitable way and Fryatt was on hand to spin the ball to Brad Smith on the wing to run in. 41-17 to the Goddington Dene side.
The final score came when lock Eames added to his first half try with a second when he crashed through a fractured and tired defence to score. In a nice touch Fryatt was given the responsibility to kick the conversion which he did with aplomb.
Final score WPRFC 48-17
A very good win in the last home game of the season putting the frustration of the reciprocal fixture to rest. Forwards and backs combined well with the youthful hinge at half back making the most of front foot ball. Special mention to the Combe groundsman for turning out a great pitch for the running game that Combe want to play. Last game of the season is at Chichester where the players' fancy dress will make it a day to savour. Lets hope for a win on the road as well.
Westcombe Park RFC: Simmons J, Dehaarte, Simmons T, Eames, Delderfield, Hackett, Lindfield, Pohlen (c), Fryatt, Harrison, Saffrey, Atiola, Beckett, Fuller, Church-Mills
Replacements: Pass, Milligan, Smith
Man of the match: James Lindfield
Match Report: John Vallely