Rugby Union is all about levels, as a level 9 club we are always looking to challenge ourselves and so took the trip to Sidcup 2s on saturday as a major challenge
Sidcup's 1st XV are currently in the upper echelons of the LSE Premiership and so the 2nd string, currently playing at level 7, would be a real test for the boys as the side was likely to contain players on the fringe of LSE Premiership status or those coming down from that level and therefore the boys knew it would be a massive test of our abilities and so it proved
Sidcup started the game well and exerted huge pressure on the Dagenham line in the first 10 minutes attempting to force a way over on several occasions, only for the Dagenham line to hold firm through some excellent tackling but also last ditch cover play.
For all their early possession Sidcup couldn't find their way over and settled for a solitary shot at goal and a 3-0 lead.
As is customary for our 1st XV we soaked up the early pressure then looked to exert some of our own. The forward pack were immense today winning scrum after scrum and dominating the structured play from the break down, never shirking a tackle nor driving maul and to a man where magnificent. The front row of Jones Warner and Clarke completely out scrummaged their opposite numbers all day and this would provide the platform for the backs to launch some stinging attacks
Dagenham's first score came from wing Jermaine Darkwa, a quite superb fend and sprint in to the corner from 50m out for 3-5. The next score came from the same source but this time it was something special.
Some dominant play from the forwards drove the ball up filed before a deft kick from the excellent Frankie Neale saw Darkwa freed on the right wing. The ball seemed to have been heading into touch but Jermaine swooped low and scooped the ball, one handed, back into the field before touching down for one of the best finishes I've seen at this level 3-10
This score was a telling one, until then the game had ebbed and flowed and it could be suggested that Sidcup had had the better of it, but the try from Darkwa gave the Dagenham men a lift and they continued to push hard for more.
The next score came from, well it should be pretty obvious now, as Man of the Match Jermaine Darkwa scored another scorcher as once again he out paced his opposite number for a quite superb finish and with Frankie Neale adding the extras this time the half time score of 3-17 in favour of the visitors was a fair reflection of the half
Things had gone well in the first 40 and now with the slope in our favour the boys looked to press on
The second half proceeded much as the first, with forward dominance from Dagenham and some neat back play from Sidcup being forced back by tenacious Dagenham defence.
The game plan worked to perfection for our next score as Mitchell Sinfield finished off several phases of play for 3-24 (extras from Neale) before Jermaine Darkwa finished a superb flowing move for his 4th try and a score of 3-31
Sidcup then had to remove 2 props due to injury and therefore had to play the remaining 25 minutes of the game as uncontested scrums which gave them the upper hand as their well organised backs were finally granted some clean ball. This coupled with a very harsh yellow card to centre Billy Allington mean't they made the extra man pay dividends as the scored their first try of the game 10-31
Even down to 14 men Dagenham had the momentum and this time Jordan Darkwa, not in his usual position of flanker but playing full back, ran the length of the field to score another fabulous try and with Neale adding the extras again a lead of 10-38 looked to be the last score
That honour would fall to the hosts with the final play of the game as they once again used their numerical advantage and clean ball from the uncontested scrum to score right of the posts for a final score of 17-38 to the men in Red and White.
DoR Brian Wren had this to say after the game
'We knew today would be a massive test and that's exactly what it was. The boys have been looking for a challenge for the past few weeks and thats no disrespect to our league opposition, we got it.
Stepping up to play a level 7 side, one which had been very effective so far this season, was going to give us a great chance to gauge our progress. I thought we were magnificent today.
From 1-22 every one of the lads stood up, some of them making their first appearances in the 1s. Jermaine Darkwa finishing was out of this world and considering he's been out of form and the squad for the past few weeks this was certainly the way to get back into the mix. Billy Allington and Billy Driver had great games in midfield and half backs Josh Cook and Frankie Neale controlled things superbly both having their best games so far this season
The forward pack were superb too, totally dominating the set piece and controlling the ball to allow our backs to play. I have to mention young Chris Warner again this week. 3 weeks ago he was our 3rd team hooker, he got a chance against Canvey and has now been superb every week. you don't often see hookers nick the ball these days but Chris did it 2-3 times yesterday at crucial points, outstanding from him.
The whole front row were great today and with a second row pairing that gave us more mobility if a little less ballast proved to be a great selection.
I really cant emphasise how pleased I am with the whole squad. A really competitive game against a very good side. If i'm honest had the game not have gone to uncontested scrums I think we'd have scored more.
Next week we have a rest before getting back into league action against Old Brentwoods, this is one I really target as they've been less than complimentary about us in the past and so I'm looking forward to seeing of they still think we're the worst team they've ever played. I doubt they will'
So another excellent performance from the 1st XV keeps the red and white wagon rolling!
Next Up is Old Brentwoods on 19th of October
Squad: S Jones, C Warner (J Parkin), S Clarke (J Warner), D Wren (J Garwood), G Wren, E Westcot (D Genovesa), J Jones, M Sinfield, J Cook, F Neale, N Farrell, B Allington, B Driver, Jermaine Darkwa, Jordan Darkwa (V Lagos)