Last-minute try keeps Dorking's dream alive
IF THERE is to be a defining moment in Dorking's season, then Saturday's last-gasp try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Thurrock could be it.
The Red & Whites looked set for one of the most frustrating afternoons of the 2012-13 campaign, with the league leaders struggling to overcome a gutsy and committed Thurrock side at the Big Field.
Going into the final few minutes of the match, Dorking trailed 12-11, with the Essex side having outfought and outplayed the Red & Whites for much of the clash, showing better handling, resolute defending and a threat on the counter.
But just as it looked like Dorking were going to surrender their position at the top of the table courtesy of their third defeat of the season, one piece of brilliance changed all of that.
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Fly half Cameron Pimlow picked up the ball at the midway point of the Thurrock half and set out on a run down the right wing, past one, two, three would-be challengers and surging for the far corner to send the Big Field crowd wild with just 90 seconds of the match remaining.
Steve Munford missed the conversion attempt, but it mattered little, with Dorking showing all the qualities of a good side in winning when not at their best, with Dorking prop George Evans hailing the result as a "big win" for his side.
It could have been so different though, with Thurrock quicker out of the blocks in the early exchanges. The mid-table outfit missed an early penalty opportunity, but their pressure told in the tenth minute when winger Sam Boshell latched on to a defence splitting kick to touch down in the corner for a five-point advantage.
Thurrock continued to be quicker to the loose ball and threatening in attack as Dorking struggled to get to grips with the visitors' tempo early on, although Munford reduced the deficit to two points with a penalty for the Red & Whites. However, the respite was short lived as Thurrock capitalised on a handling error from the restart to run in a second try 90 seconds later - Jake Barrand dotting down with the conversion extending the lead to nine points.
Another Munford penalty brought the deficit down to six points a few minutes later, although the Red & Whites still struggled to test the visitors defensively, with poor handling and a number of turnovers contributing to a scrappy period, where neither side looked likely to add to the score.
However, a misplaced pass from Pimlow put Dorking under pressure towards the end of the half, with the Red & Whites having to defend in numbers to hold firm before the half time whistle.
The Red & Whites came out after the restart with more discipline and more determination, with Thurrock forced to retreat more and more defensively, holding the hosts up close to the line after some strong forward play.
And the breakthrough finally arrived for Dorking when John Vermont intercepted a pass on the halfway line and surged forward for the line, scoring an unconverted try in the corner.
This did not, however, lead to an onslaught from Dorking, with Thurrock continuing to frustrate their hosts with a determined defensive display, restricting them to two long-range penalty opportunities for Munford, both of which came up just short.
In between the two penalties, Dorking continued to do well in the rucks, but again they were held up close to the line, while an uncharacteristic handling error from captain Armand Roux summed up the frustration around the Big Field as the Red & Whites looked set for a disappointing defeat. However, Pimlow had other ideas and his late, late intervention came as a huge relief to everyone connected with the Red & Whites, with the Big Field erupting in jubilation as the promotion push remained on track.