BACK TO WINNING WAYS
By Ben Stanley
Hard earned Bonus Point Win
Thurrock welcomed old adversaries Dartfordians back to Oakfield for the first time since 1988 having beaten the visitors in a tight game back in October. The game also saw Tani Loka playing in his 100th game for T's.
From the kick off the visitors started well but Thurrock’s defence was key to the early stages of the match, rebuffing the hard running Kent team whom tried to punch holes with no avail. Thurrock grew into the match and a penalty on the visitors 10 meter line was kicked to touch. Ts won the line out in the visitors 22 and after several phases, Henry Bird went over for the first try of the game which was converted by Sam Stanley to lead 7-0.
Ts were growing in confidence and were looking to attack from deep. One such attack from their Own half saw the ball moved wide to winger Dan Stone. He carried well before chipping ahead and the visitors defender looked to kick the ball in to touch, unfortunately for him however it went behind the dead ball line and gave Ts a 5 meter scrum. Dartfordians defended the scrum well but Captain Charlie Russo managed to keep the ball alive and the ball was quickly recycled along the backs to Darryl Worster. A neat interchange with Dylan Fearon saw the ball returned to Worster for him to slide in for the 2nd try of the afternoon. Stanley converted to lead 14-0.
Thurrock scored their third try late into the first half again through Worster, when a fine break from the returning Joss Nunn saw him draw the last defender to give Worster a clear run to the line for his 2nd try of the afternoon. Stanley’s 3rd successful conversion brought the half to an end.
Dartfordians kicked off the second half and nearly recovered the ball, only for Thurrock to clear the danger. Dartfordians were now chasing the game and an under pressure pass saw Dan Carey intercept and try to feed Dan Stone. The ball was knocked backwards off a defender giving Stone an easy kick ahead to score. His kick bounced back off the post though and out of his reach. Luckily for Ts, Jake Bedding was following up and dotted the ball down to secure the try bonus point. Stanley added the easy conversion for a score of 28-0 after 43 mins.
To Dartfordians credit, they never let their heads drop and continued to play some neat rugby. From a penalty on their 22, they kicked long and managed to win the lineout. Following some patient phase play, they were able to grab themselves their 1st try of the afternoon which was also converted for a score of 28-7.
Thurrock came back hard and following a great Tom Pool run and some good interplay between the backs, Henry Bird was able to get a great one handed offload for Stone to race away for T's 5th try of the day and increase their lead to 33-7.
Ts then killed the game off when they scored through Niall Clifford following some great play by Loka & Worster. Stanley added his 5th conversion for a 40-7 lead.
The last 20 minutes saw the contest turn into a scrappy affair and Thurrock were down to 13 men at one stage with both Charlie Russo & Reece Durrance sent to the bin shortly after one another. The visitors took advantage with 2 well deserved tries before Ts closed out the final 10 minutes by keeping the visitors at bay and preventing them from getting their own try bonus point.
The win sees T's cement their 6th place position and close the gap to Westcombe Park in 5th to 2 points.
This week Thurrock travel to a resurgent Chichester with kick off at 14.30.