Anchs faced Old Dunstonians (”ODs”) in South East London on what started out to be a clear but cold Saturday afternoon. Playing up the slope and against a strong wind, Anchs conceded an early penalty which ODs failed to convert but they took advantage when a second penalty was awarded right in front of the posts giving the home side a 3 – 0 lead.
ODs used the conditions well in the first half, and with a good supply of ball they kicked into the corner and were soon rewarded when, after an initial fumble, the ball was fed to the winger who crossed the line and ran round to make the conversion easier and increase the lead to 10 points. The ODs back line looked dangerous with ball in hand and following a clean break in midfield they scored their second try which was again converted.
Anchs fought back immediately and enjoyed a good period of play. However, the tendency to concede penalties at the breakdown meant that ODs were able to keep Anchs from scoring and return play to the Anchs half. After marching Anchs back an extra 10 metres following another penalty, ODs again missed a kickable opportunity. As half time approached Anchs took the game to ODs and were awarded a penalty in the ODs 22. They took a quick tap and after a number of attempts to cross the line, Chris Everest crashed over and Brad Ford added the conversion. Finishing the half strongly Anchs had a further opportunity to score but when Tom Williams cut inside the attack was snuffed out by the ODs cover defence.
Trailing 17 – 7 at half time Anchs turned to play with the elements and could be forgiven for thinking that the game was there for the taking. Indeed Anchs started the half well and when a cross kick to the wing was fumbled by the ODs defence, the referee awarded a try to Adam Davison after consultation with the touch judge. The conversion was missed.
Despite strong performances from Chris Everest, new scrum half Ollie Dawes and Connor Roles playing his first game at hooker for the 1st XV this season, ODs continued to look dangerous and spent a period of time inside the Anchs 22, but Anchs were able to clear their lines. Anchs had an opportunity when they kicked a penalty to the corner but their lineout was not functioning as well as usual and the opportunity was lost.
Anchs went further behind when ODs kicked a loose ball through and won the chase for an unconverted try to give them a 10 point lead. Following another good break, ODs capitalized on their field position and when Chris Everest was yellow carded, ODs scored their fourth try for a 27 – 12 lead and a try scoring bonus point.
As conditions worsened due to the arrival of Storm Jorge, Anchs struggled to play to the conditions and no further scores meant they failed to take a league point from the fixture, leaving them 4th from bottom of the table and in a battle with Uckfield to avoid the 3rd relegation spot.
Anchs now have time to regroup with no games until 21st March when they face league leaders Ashford at home, followed by a crucial away trip to Uckfield the following week.
By Ian Brenton