Tribute Devon Two

Dartmouth RFC 19,

Buckfastleigh arrived at Norton Park having won their opening three matches of the season, so Dartmouth knew this was going to be a tough battle, but I don’t think anyone really realised just how close it was going to be.

Dartmouth started the match top of the league after securing a maximum 15 points from their opening three matches, but found themselves 0-3 down after five minutes when Harry Laity kicked the Ramblers into the lead from a penalty.

Dartmouth, playing against the wind in the first half, knew how important it was to put in a good first-half performance and after winning the line-out on nine minutes, the Darts pack charged the ball over the line, with flanker Karl Caunter getting the ball down for the try. Jack Clark kicked the conversion to make it 7-3.

Buckfastleigh hit back four minutes later when Laity scored another penalty, taking the score to 7-6.

Dartmouth were then forced into an early change when try scorer Caunter went off with a dead leg and was replaced by Will Lockerbie, making his first appearance of the season.

Buckfastleigh had the chance to take the lead on 28 minutes but this time Laity was off target with his penalty.

The last five minutes of the first half proved very costly for the Darts as Bucks started to take control of the match and use the wind to their advantage. On 35 minutes it was Robinson who scored a try for the Ramblers, with Laity converting to take the lead at 7-13.

Dartmouth did not learn from their mistakes and on the stroke of half time gave away a soft try scored by Dan Partridge. The Ramb­lers failed to hit the conversion and went in at the break leading 7-18.

For the first time this season Dartmouth found themselves starting the second half trailing so this would be a good test to see what this new-look Dartmouth team are made of.

The Darts waited until the 50th minute to use the bench again, with Jack Gordon re­placing Xavier Picot for his first taste of league rugby this season.

The next 10 minutes had Dartmouth camp­ed in the Ramblers’ half but unable to get past their defence.

With 20 minutes left changes were needed and Dec Hammond was replaced by Glenn Allison. Within seconds the Darts’ persistence was finally rewarded with player-coach Tom Clark diving over for the try. Younger brother Jack just missed the conversion to make it 12-18.

A flurry of changes followed, with Ted Duberley, Dave Champion and Karl Caunter replacing Alex Parrott, Jack Clark and Ricky Seymour.

Dartmouth, still driving forward at every opportunity, found themselves down to 14 men on 69 minutes when Caunter rather harshly received a yellow card.

Being a man down and with wind behind them, Dartmouth kept up the pressure and on 78 minutes Will Lockerbie scored a try for Dartmouth after another driving maul from the pack went over the line.

With the score now at 17-18 it was up to Dave Champion to take the conversion from the angle, which under pressure he made look so easy, to put Darts 19-18 in front.

There was still time in the last minute for Tom Clark to pick up a yellow card and when the Ramblers were awarded a penalty it looked like they may take the lead again.

Al­though the penalty was between the posts, it was some distance out and with the wind against them it was off target from Jake Symes and the final whistle duly followed, with the Darts winning 19-18.

Full credit to Buck­fastleigh, who played very well and I am sure the return fixture will be just as tough as this one was.

With a break in the league fixtures this weekend The Darts have no league match on Saturday but do have a development squad going to Sal­combe this Thursday, December 1, for a match under the lights with a 7pm kick-off.