Wanderers Down Dorking
Clifton 2nds made it back to back victories at home with a victory in their first ever match up vs Dorking.
After last week’s impressive Zoo League 50 – 5 debut win against a much-delayed Westcombe Park side, Clifton entertained Dorking 2s this week at the mighty “Fortress Station Road” (also known as the back pitch) looking to carry on their winning run. The Wanderers side showed a few changes from last week’s winning side due to injury or 1st team call-ups, so an extended warm-up was run through to acquaint everyone with each other, the patterns of play and coach Fincken’s laid-back tactical plan (“Get stuck in!”).
The attitude prior to kick off was an indication of things to come in the game – simple, focused and aggressive. Captain for the day Ross Denton showed his gambling prowess and won the toss, so Wanderers elected to play with the wind in the first half. The initial exchanges were quite even, with both sides looking to run the ball hard and retain possession. The early tight set-piece exchanges set the tone for the majority of the game – from the first scrum, the Clifton tight five of Christie, Williams, Denton, Chiddle and Hawkins shunted the Dorking pack backwards, which would prove to be the pattern for the match. With the starting back row of Kemp, Woodward and Luckwell causing havoc for the Dorking half-backs at breakdowns and in the backfield, it was becoming increasingly difficult for Dorking to build any significant phases of continuity.
On the flip-side, the excellent platform provided by the Clifton forwards (with the lineout calling of John Hawkins and the accurate darts of new hooker Jack Williams prominent) enabled the dangerous Clifton backline to run through their full repertoire of moves. Fresh from his appearance as the face (and torso) of the World Poker Series, Clifton centre/hardened gambler/Man of the Match Mike Cross made an attempt at the Guinness world record for most interception attempts in one game. Sadly for Crossy (and luckily for the opposition), too much chest work in the gym led to a success ration of only around 40% - a classic case of too much weights, not enough speedwork.
Once the initial storm from Dorking was weathered, the tries from both backs and forwards started to flow. Last week’s MoM Rhys Luckwell led the way in the pack with 2 – asked to play number 8 this week, Luckwell elected to put his Kevin Keegan perm into the dry cleaners for the weekend to see if the streamlined hairline would increase his pick-up time from the base of the scrum, to some notable success. Other tries in the forward pack came from Ben Christie, John Hawkins (from a lovely inside ball from Allen Williams) and his boiler-room partner Royce Chiddle. Unfortunately for Chiddle, the gloss was taken off his day by having to register a report about being mugged during the game – police are currently questioning one of the Clifton forwards to see if they did indeed steal Mr Chiddle’s missing try.
Tries from the backs were shared between live-wire 9 David Boyland (2 tries), fly half Luke Blizzard (1 try, 9 conversions), Mike Cross and the rejuvenated veteran fullback Allen “Scouse” Williams, who bagged a pair. Without the distraction of his football loving back three colleague from last season Tom Bellak feeding him up to the minute Premier League scorelines, Williams was able to concentrate on his running lines and catching without distraction, to some considerable success. Notable mention should also go to the wing pair of Fraser and Britton, who did make some significant ground with ball in hand, even if neither of them managed to cross the whitewash (old habits die hard for Fraser, it seems).
With the game comfortably won after half time, coach Fincken was able to roll on the substitutes bench, who all acquitted themselves admirably. Matt “Moonhead” Gibbs and Sam Phelps brought some more direct running lines to the midfield exchanges (and some impressive line breaks), and the replacement forwards all added some much-needed go forward to replace tired legs when they came on.
Dorking did manage a purple patch in the second half, scoring a well-worked try down the left wing, and refused to throw in the towel, making a few nice breaks as the time ran down. To their credit, they did remain dangerous throughout, and the final scoreline of 73-5 doesn’t accurately reflect the ability they had with ball in hand. The standard of the Zoo League is much higher than the league the Wanderers won at a canter last year, so it is a credit to the players and coaching staff involved with the team this season that we have started with a bang, and were able to keep our patterns and style of play going for a full 80 minutes against good opposition – long may it continue!
Clifton MoM – Mike Cross
D!ck of the Day (in absentia) – coach Scott “Sherman” McGrath, for leaving a load of impressionable newbies alone with Finks for a whole afternoon and pulling off the finest Sherman Klump impersonation on Saturday night ever seen outside of a movie theatre.