We had hoped for an unbeaten run at the end of the season. We had hoped for our first win over Dorking in three years. We had hoped for a lot of things...unfortunately, it was an all too familiar story. An 'encouraging' and 'passionate' performance, inevitably let down by a more dominant forward pack and a handful of errors.
The convincing win against Gravesend had pleased everyone. We had stuck to our new gameplan and produced a physical and professional performance. Despite an Easter break, we were confident we could keep the momentum going and win our last three league games and secure 6th spot.
Before the weekend, we had not beaten the Surrey side in five attempts. Previous clashes with Dorking had been hard-fought, entertaining and had generally produced an excellent standard of Rugby. So we were all looking forward to the match.
We started extremely well. We were patient but clinical at the breakdown and, most importantly, we looked merciless out wide. The Backs were very much in the mood. Young Beeny continued his good form at Scrum-half and the Centre partnership of JP and Papa Bear Lamden were a constant handful. The pressure told on 14 minutes. Fly-half Scott Browne waltzed through a gaping hole and off loaded the Tommy Newton to touch down.
A couple of penalties extended our lead but it was our mistakes that let the home side back in. Browne was caught in position and Dorking punished us with a try from Scum-half Crow. Undeterred, we continued to press our dominance but again a simple mistake lead to a score for prolific Winger Terelak.
However, just as the tables were starting to turn, stunning hands from the Backline lead to a quite brilliant score for Browne. Papa Bear's bootstrap catch and flick was worth the entrance fee alone. So we finished the half 23-12. An impressive lead and a potential scalp on the cards.
But then the tables really did turn...with brutal efficiency. The pitch itself had a fairly pronounced slope. We didn't notice it too much at first but playing uphill against a rejuvenated opposition was an entirely different prospect. Dorking started with blistering speed, keen to make up for early mistakes and a flowing move down the left lead to an easy score for Full-back Tyler.
The scrum had struggled all day and the labour was intensified by the slope. A scrum on our five metre line lead to a humiliating and all-to-easy push over try, which was jubilantly celebrated.
The cracks in our game had been prized open into fissures and there was no stopping Dorking. A number of penalties and a further try from Number 8-turned-Winger Lucas meant a final score of 40-23. 28 unanswered points in the second half left a bitter taste in our mouths.
It boils down to the ultimate sporting cliche...a game of two halves. The first: probably the best half we have ever played. We were excellent at the breakdown, securing quick ball for a pumped up Backline to work their very best magic. The second: Dorking, buoyed by a couple of gifted tries, closed out the game efficiently. But it was through no lack of effort or passion - more a loss of shape on our behalf.
6th place looks beyond our grasp unless we can pull off a cricket score against Havant and Luton can shock Civil Service. All-in-all we are hoping to get over the disappointment and finish the season on a high.
And so there are just two games left of the season. Havant at home and then Hertford in the County Cup Final. Two games left of what has been such a promising season. And just two games left of my Rugby career.
Yes, I am still planning to hang my boots up on 29 April (give or take a couple of Sevens tournaments in the Summer). It will be something of an emotional game on Saturday as I run out in front of the Step End faithful for the last time. With the baby due in September, I won't have the time to commit to the extra training, fitness and gym work needed to succeed at this level - I barely have now let alone with a screaming Rugrat in tow! It will be tough to stop altogether and I may be in a position to re-evaluate after Christmas but in the short-term at least I will be swapping muddy kit for pooey nappies!
I am hoping for a big end-of-season crowd at Fortress Cow Lane but I fear the weather may have something to say about that. Let's hope I cross the line on Saturday to avoid the embarrassment of finishing my career with the Naked Mile!