Darts thankful for influential number eight in Exeter victory

By Jake Chown  
Thursday 25th January 2018 4:04 pm
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Dartmouth RFC 32,

Exeter Saracens 24

Dartmouth, in their new away kit, kicked off the first half ­playing towards the opposition end. After much of the action was in the Exeter half, it was Dartmouth that were forced into an early change, with Jack Clark being replaced by older brother Tom, who went off to get assessed.

Darts were building momentum and after several minutes camped on the Exeter five-metre line it was Jason Gibbs who managed to find a gap and score the first try.

Luke Chase, battling the wind, sent his conversion wide. Not the best conditions for the kickers playing today.

On 26 minutes the Clark brothers swapped again, with Jack fit to continue. With both teams bogged down at times, it was Darts that finished the half on a high when a great passing move along the back line fell to Josh Bruckner, who bagged the second try of the game and his first of the season.

Jack Clark’s conversion was narrowly wide, so Darts’ lead stood at 10-0.

Darts were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but the kick was missed, so the score remained at 10-0.

One replacement at half-time saw Karl Caunter replaced by Tom Clark on the flank.

Exeter came out after the break fired up and within two minutes found themselves just one score behind as the ball fell to the Exeter full back on the halfway line and his diagonal run across the pitch to the opposite five-metre line got rucked over for Exeter to score in the corner. A couple of changes followed, with Josh Bruckner and Jack Stirk being replaced by Jake Bridgwood and Karl Caunter.

With 49 minutes gone, Darts, with a 10-5 lead, went on the attack. Captain John Dingle found space and after a great run into the Exeter half offloaded to Aaron Hunt, who found Tom Clark on the wing – the player-coach went over the line for their third try.

With Jack Clark’s conversion going wide, it was 15-5.

Dartmouth, sensing a bonus point, kept up the pressure and on 57 minutes a great move involving Karl Caunter and Aaron Hunt ended with Darts winning a scrum and driving over the line for Jason Gibbs to dive on the ball for his second try of the day, earning a bonus point. With 20 minutes to play, Nick Shillabeer was replaced by hooker Dan Jones.

On 67 minutes Exeter scored a converted try, cutting Dartmouth’s lead to 20-12. A disagreement between Jake Bridgwood and an Exeter ­player saw both yellow-carded with 12 minutes left to play, so both teams were reduced to 14. On 73 minutes Darts’ Luck Chase broke away and found a lovely offload to Aaron Hunt; he offloaded back inside to Luke Bonstow, who made several metres before passing to karl Caunter who scored by the posts. With Jack Clark converting, it took the score to 27-12.

With three minutes remaining, Darts’ Alex Parrott and Luke Chase combined well to release Tom Clark, who dived over the line to score his second try of the match. The conversion was missed by Jack Clark, so Dartmouth led 32-12.

With only two minutes to go, a creditable Exeter kept running and, after scoring a converted try, got the nod from the referee that the game would restart. With two bonus points on offer if they got one more score, they went for it.

Ball in hand, they ran at Darts defence. The ball spun around the backs at pace and eventually they ran round the back of the Dartmouth line and scored between the posts. Unfortunately for Exeter, the conversion was missed, which left the final score 32-24, with Exeter settling for a single bonus point courtesy of their four tries.

Jason Gibbs was awarded the Dartmouth man of the match in an excellent game for the number eight, who due to injury was sorely missed at the start of the season.

Dartmouth now travel to Five Lanes Pitch tomorrow to take on New Cross RFC, with a 2.30pm kick-off. All travelling support is most welcome.

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