EVEN though Dartmouth are league champions with a 100 per cent winning record this season, they travelled to Parkway in Plymouth last Saturday, the home of Tamar Saracens, in the first round of the Papa Johns Trophy. 

These two teams, first and second in the Counties 3 Tribute Devon South & West League, had already battled it out twice this season, with Dartmouth coming away winners on each occasion but only by a few points.

From the kick-off, this was a very physical game and one could sense that with one missed tackle, either side could score. Dartmouth put in some bone-crunching tackles.

On nine minutes, hooker Tom Clark went for an interception but the referee awarded a penalty to the home side. Tamar missed and the ball sailed wide of the posts.

Then the visitors were awarded a penalty for a high tackle and Sam Churchill gave Dartmouth a 3-0 lead from 30 metres.

Within minutes of Churchill's penalty, Tamar attacked the Dartmouth line and a little chip over the head of the Dartmouth players saw their winger collect the bounce and go over in the corner for a well worked try. Dartmouth were later penalised again and Paul Hall kicked home.

Pressure after half-time paid off, and the try came on 60 minutes when Darts won a scrum against the head and the ball was worked left by Jaime Kearney to Sam Churchill, who threw a dummy before passing to Jack Gordon. Full-back Richard Lobb joined the back line and he received the ball and crashed over in the corner.

Dartmouth were up to winning this game and, on 70 minutes, Tamar committed a high tackle and Churchill put Darts into the lead. Sam Churchill added a further three shortly afterwards.

Dartmouth ran out worthy winners and are in cup action again on Saturday as they welcome Fareham Heathens to Norton Field with a 2.30pm kick-off.

Coach Reg Varney said, "We are focussing on one game at a time. With this mindset, we will go into next week’s game with the same ethos and determination to do our best for our ever-growing and vocal crowd. We would like to thank you all for your faithful support. 

“What we are doing is a huge thing for Dartmouth – and not only for the rugby club but the town as a whole. This season's success and achievements to date belong to us all and every person in Dartmouth should take some credit because, without them, the season may not have gone the way it has.”

A big thank you to Jon Pope of the Dolphin Inn for sponsoring post-match refreshments for next week’s game against Fareham.