Dover entered the weekend in need of a win following a 4 game losing streak and their task wasn’t going to be made easy with 2nd in the league Beccahamians travelling down to the Crabble ground. Dover were also without multiple key personnel due to a raft of injuries, holidays and their skipper being called up for Jamaican 7s duty, in total there were 8 changes from the 18 that travelled the week previously to Thanet.
Things weren’t looking too good for Dover even before the kick off with Isaac Bryant picking up a knock and having to switch places with 2nd team skipper Morris to the bench while DoR and stand in captain for the day Beaumont aggravated a back injury and was unable to take up his normal trusty kicking duties. Dover lost the toss and faced the prospect of going down the Crabble slope in the first half, as the teams entered the pitch the clouds burst and the weather turned.
Charge got the game under way and instantly Dover started to pile the pressure on the big & young Beccahamians team, with pressure growing the away team gave away a kickable penalty on the edge of their 22. As Charge lined I up the kick the ball rolled off the tee, with barely enough time to get it lined up to retake it the kick was shanked very wide, the side-line gasped and hoped that this wasn’t to be a sign of things to come!
Dover, with the wind behind their backs refused to lay down and attacked with intent, with scrum half Dewing setting a high tempo and sniping around the breakdown gaps started to appear, Beaumont was on his shoulder and was soon across the white wash for Dover to take the lead 5-0. Dover weren’t quite done yet and harassed the visitors endlessly with quick line press forcing Beccahamians to kick away possession to the Dover full back Price making only his second start from the club since joining in the summer. Price hit a line and made a break, as all good 7s do Foster was calling for the ball on his inside and a smart late pass released the ever green backrow to sprint under the posts which was converted.
Beccahamians started to show the class that had led them to second in the league and attacked the Dover line with numerous attacks and lineouts and pressure eventually told as they crashed over to bring the scores closer at 12-7. Dover knew that they had to take full advantage of the of the pressure that they had shown early doors and started to turn the screw, following a lineout and superb work from the pack Warner crashed over the line to allow Dover to take a 19-7 lead in to the half.
The home team knew that the second half was going to be an uphill battle and not just in a physical sense, the wind and rain was against them. The first of the replacements were used with vice captain Piddlesden making a return to the team following a 3 week injury lay off while prop Rix who continues to impress with his strong ball carrying and set piece was given a rest as the Dover management knew he would be key at the end of the game.
Within 3 minutes of the kick off Dover had conceded 3 penalties that had marched them from the Beccahamians 22 to their own, the away team elected to take an easy 3 points to bring the scores closer at 19-13. The visitors now had their tail up and started to move the ball more comfortably but the Dover line press led by Crawford and Foster started to lead to mistakes, as Beccahamians tried to spin the ball second row Bowman popped up and intercepted the ball on the halfway line, the goal was in sight and with clear space, however only he will know how he didn’t make the line as he was chopped down from behind but the ball was quick and clean and allowed Dewing to move the ball and Crawford crashed under the posts to allow for a simple conversion by Charge to increase the lead to 26-13.
At this point Morris had to exit the fray following a knock to his considerable jaw and the half injured Bryant limped his way on to the pitch, along with Curtis for Adams who’s excellent soft hands had set up many plays as well as his strong set piece work, while Rix returned to the pitch for Baker who’s scrumming allowed the platform to be set. The 3 replacements increased the tempo once again for Dover and the break down was attacked once more, the forwards punched holes and Dewing saw a gap and sprinted away to score which was converted to take the lead to 33-13, Beccahamians needed 3 converted tries to take the lead, surely the game with 15 minutes to go was Dovers for the taking.
However the away team were refusing to lay down as they started to send in their heavy pack, Dover’s defence stood firm and refused to buckle as they repeatedly repelled attacks. Just as a break was about to be made Beaumont tried to slow the ball down and hung on for a little too long for the referees liking and was harshly but promptly shown a yellow card. Beccahamians attacked the corner from the resulting penalty, the lineout was successfully sacked by the Dover pack but the repeated phases that were being put together allowed the away teams hooker to cross tight in the corner. Surely not, surely Dover couldn’t be denied, as the kicker attempted the conversion it was sliced wide meaning that the score was now 33-18 and Dover still 3 scores clear.
The final say of the game came from the 14 men in the blue who wanted to see the game out in style, swift hands got Dover in to the 22 and once again clean ball allowed Dewing to suck in defenders and release Charge to cross under the posts to take the score to 40-18. As the referee blew the final whistle there was a sense of belief from the Dover side that they had shown today what they were really capable of, the team played with confidence in each other and an attitude which winners are made of.
Man of the Match was split between Dewing for his tempo and attacking that he brought to the game and Crawford for his excellent defence work, but in truth it could have been split between 5 or 6 players, honourable mentions to Foster & Warner for the breakdown and carrying work, Price at fullback for his highball and attacking skills and Charge for his 15 point haul and great defence organisation.
Following the game Head of Rugby stated that even with the injuries and unavailability plays stepped up and made a name for themselves. It was the performance of the season so far for us and one that was needed. 1-18 played a massive part in today’s game, showing the attitude and work rate expected in our teams. This gives us some very difficult decision to make over the coming weeks with absent players having to fight for their positions back.
Dover 1st XV next game sees them travel to top of the league Hove in 9th November with our 2nd and 3rd teams playing in the armistice day game at Crabble, 2.30 KO