Dartfordians - 11th November 2023

Updated by: Admin - 12/11/2023

Cranbrook suffer in the suburbs.


A trip to Bexley even in benign sunny conditions did not work out well for Cranbrook,  who despite having a reasonable supply of possession and territory were well beaten as the hosts aggressive wide running game was too much for at times a porous Cranbrook defence.

After another week of much rain a magnificent and welcome late autumn day on a surprisingly firm pitch with but a slight cross breeze enabled a fast paced game to unfold. From the kick off Dartfordians looked sharp whilst Cranbrook appeared to be too passive. This enabled an early score when a penalty was kicked to touch midway into the Cranbrook half, the lineout was too easily driven forward and when the backs were released good passing produced a comfortable converted score.

From the kick off Cranbrook did have some promising phases without making a scoring chance. Fabian Rimmer then put them in good position on the right with a fine 50-22 kick but there was miscommunication at the lineout which was disappointingly lost without challenge. A second try came on 18 minutes as the hosts, who were adept at quickly recycling ball, against a back pedalling defence the scrum half made a jinking run to score. The hosts were threatening often and with quick ball and accurate passing Cranbrook were up against it. Alex Cornwallis did save a score when making a tackle covering across but was penalised for not using his arms. An interesting occurrence at the lineout was that Cranbrook were mysteriously given a free kick as a home player left it too late after forming. This became apparent as Rimmer cleared well to touch, but the lineout went to Dartfordians as it was not a full penalty. Soon another attack produced a score after a full width of the field move, then Anthony Andrews at full back made a fine tap tackle to save another. Andrews was a busy man in the invidious position of having little support from rookie wingers but in the circumstances did well as he was secure under the occasional high ball and sometimes was able to run it back to find his forwards.

The last 10 minutes of the half were disappointing as first Cornwallis then Tom Humphreys were carded, and Cranbrook  conceded 3 tries for a half time deficit of 40 points. Cornwallis seemed unfortunate as he appeared to have been raked and was understandably angered.

Cranbrook needed to regroup at an extended half time as the hosts took to the changing room. From the kick off they got into position and from a quick tap penalty taken by the restored Cornwallis, Rimmer was able to score cleanly when collecting the ball at the side of the ruck that formed. Although converting well he had to retire soon after. Hamish Gillanders had come on at half time and as always added to the momentum of the team despite playing out of position on the wing then centre. 

Cranbrook continued to have enough ball and looked most effective when linking with some of the forwards who made ground, David Lock in particular. Fly half Owen Chilvers has quietly established himself these past few games and looked to vary his options as he had a sound game and scrum half Oliver Addis had his moments too and provided a good service to Chilvers.

The great difference between the teams was wide running of Dartfordians who had more than enough ball to confidently express themselves. This exposed the tackling as occasionally suspect as the game progressed and during the half they scored regularly and sometimes from long range with a further six tries. 

The spirit of this Cranbrook team has never been in doubt, and it was heartening to see a stronger effort this half, particularly by the pack. Dartfordians were ready to challenge at every tackle, but Cranbrook were efficient in getting enough bodies in position to protect the ball, so being able to run through phases. Eventually one such passage of play produced the final score of the day, as after successive tapped penalties as Dartfordians fouled, the indefatigable No 8  Guy Crouchman scored halfway out, well converted by Chilvers. 

It is often difficult playing away to the metropolitan teams in this league who  seem to have greater playing strength in depth, as such the real battles in this league are against the several teams towards the bottom of the league with whom Cranbrook can compete on a more equal basis. Results in these games will determine the outcome of the season. However, Cranbrook will have to ensure that they are more aggressive than they were at the outset today, they should remember what can be achieved when they do so, such as at Bromley recently.

The team was 1 M Stockman, 2 J Pankhurst Capt, 3 D Lock, 4 T Hamplett, 5 J Forknall, 6 T Humphreys, 7 B Pearce, 8 G Crouchman, 9 O Addis, 10 O Chilvers, 11 A Stemp, 12 F Rimmer, 13 A Cornwallis, 14 D Gibson, 15 A Andrews. 

Subs ( all used ) 16 J Yeomans, 17 H Gillanders, 18 J Lewis.


Match report by Philip Rimmer


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