Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Friday, 9 December 2011

Smash and Grab Tring hold on to Third….just!

'Any win away from home is a good one' - Tom Newton

The Tring Rangers broke their Kent ‘hoodoo’ at the weekend, with a hard-fought 16-14 win against Gravesend. Our previous two trips to the Garden of England had proved fruitless but a last gasp try from David Shotton secured a nail biting four-point win.

Gravesend surprised us last year. Our over confidence was soundly punished by a physical and direct side, 35-21. And we weren’t the only ones to suffer this fate. The Kent side finished an impressive 6th in their first season in National 3 South East. Despite their patchy form this season, we were braced for another tough physical battle.

We didn’t start the game with the bang needed…I say ‘we’ but a criminally poor missed tackle from yours truly put us under pressure from the outset. We regained our composure though and even turned defence into attack – Sam Clapham scampering in the corner from his own charge down.

The first-half was blighted by errors with neither team managing to control the ball with any real purpose. Despite making early inroads, we tightened up our defence where it mattered and the home side could not convert their pressure.

On the few times we were able to string phases together, we looked dangerous. Patient build up play, following our new game plan, led to a penalty in front of the posts, gratefully slotted by Chennells. 8-0 but far from comfortable.

Gravesend stoked up the heat in the engine room and their powerful forward pack started to dominate. They were disruptive at the breakdown and solid in the set piece. Prop Forsyth scrambled over following a muscular driven lineout.

We threatened with the ball in hand but did not take the chances we were given. Our defence was not at its fearsome best and we occasionally found ourselves out of position. Poor communication gave pacey Full-back Hall an opportunity to jink through a gap, which he finished with aplomb. 14-11 to Gravesend at the end of the half.

The second half was much more encouraging. We dominated possession and started to keep the ball for long periods of time. The scrum was creaking but our defence found it’s brutal backbone and our lineouts started to click as well.
Gravesend Scrum-half, John  Clement, is a friend from Uni
However, several well worked moves were bombed and the time kept ticking. Then, with just a couple of minutes on the clock, slick hands from the Mateai Express and Tommy Newton put Shotton over the line for the winning score.

It certainly wasn’t a vintage Tring performance. But Gravesend is a tough fixture for anyone, especially away from home. And the four points maintained our third place in the league.

Indeed, the table makes for interesting reading this year. Just four points separates third and seventh, making the margin for error even tighter. One mistake and we could slip four places. Rugby shouldn’t be about watching the table but it’s hard not to when it’s this exciting!

This weekend Dorking travel to Fortress Cow Lane. It will be one of the biggest games in our history. If we win, we send out a statement of intent to the league, proving our top billing. Lose and it makes travelling away to Ampthill next week an even tougher ask.

Dorking are an excellent side with some top class players. They are also a good bunch off the pitch as well, which is becoming something of a rarity these days! Last weekend, they recovered from their minor blip with an eyebrow-raising 29-8 win over Tonbridge Juddians. We know where their strengths are and we have prepared well.

Personally, I am looking forward to testing myself against their excellent back row. I have played Sevens with Open-side Harry and we know all about their monster No 8 and strong Blind-side.

Dorking at Cow Lane is a fixture to set the hearts a-flutter. It should be a real hum-dinger on Saturday!