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1st XV - Match centre

Purley John Fisher
Sat 26 Apr 15:00 - League Full time

PJF falter at Playoff stage


For the past 24 hours I have been haunted by the sight of the Dover Flyer thundering down the paddock with Stuart Sorrell in hot pursuit. It's an image that lasts for what seems like hours, that goes on for miles, that drains every last sinew of energy th

I was aware, as the scene unfolded in front of us, of 100's of PJF supporters slowly sinking and going weak at the knees. Full credit to Sors for his superhuman effort at that juncture of the game for trying to catch his opponent but unfortunately it was yet another end of the season where we watched success disappear in front of our eyes.

Another supreme season (undefeated at home, only lost 2 games away) ended all too familiarly for PJF as yet again we yielded a playoff place for promotion. Full credit to {insert your Club name here} for their win and good luck in London 2. Perhaps what is even harder for us to get to grips with is the fact that there are several sides in London 2 whom we have beaten over the years. That is what makes me continue to believe that we deserve to at least have a chance of taking them on.

Purley John Fisher 19 Dover 25

And so again Purley John Fisher fall at the final hurdle as they failed to make promotion theirs for this the 3rd year in succession. An instant, split second, wrong option decision sealed their fate in the dying minutes of this hotly contested competition which saw the visitors to the Pightle, Dover RFC, wrap up the spoils and take them back to the South Kent coast. If promotion were the result of a united Club effort to host such an occasion, then surely PJF would have been promoted tenfold over the years, unfortunately the important factor rests with an 80 minute Rugby match and on Saturday was sealed by a cruel twist of fate.

Full credit must be given to a tenacious Dover 15 who travelled up to the Pightle bringing with them a trusty band of spectators. This added to the assembled home crowd and swole the numbers to about 400 on a glorious sunny afternoon. The game started in a lively fashion with both sides setting out their stall to take the game to the other side. Dover faired better in the early exchanges and managed to play the first 20 minutes in the PJF half. With a rare visit to their opponents 22 PJF declared their intent through a series of hard forward drives and set piece play that forced Dover to defend deep.

The ice was broken when PJF drove a scrum from 15 yards out and no 8 James Leigh scooped up from the back to cross over and score the fist try of the day. Dover responded and secured a period of time in PJF's territory from which they replied with a try from the back of a rolling maul. The following conversion saw the score 5-7 in Dover's favour. PJF responded swiftly through a passage of ball retention which had them march back up the field. From a series of pick and drives the forwards secured territorial advantage and a quick blindside break saw winger Joe Millington score in the corner.

So half time had PJF 10-5 ahead with the momentum in their court. 2 early second half successful penalty conversions from Stuart Sorrel sealed PJF's control of the game as they eased ahead 16-7 some 15 minutes into the second half. Dover tried hard for 10 minutes to get back a their hosts but PJF appeared to strangle their possession and continuity with good resilient defending. However persistence was rewarded as the Dover backline displayed their potential with a flowing move across their line into the hands of their right winger who touched down. With their tales up Dover worked hard and got themselves back into contention through a well taken penalties. Sorrell in response nailed another penalty and at 19-15 PJF were only 5 minutes from victory. An indiscretion at a breakdown gave Dover the chance to move down the pitch and from another penalty they hauled themselves back to 19-18.

Buoyed on by the crowd PJF drove deep into Dover territory and camped on the 10 yard line for what seemed like ages. This was the correct thing to do as the clock ticked slowly towards full time. The roar and energy from the crowd willed PJF to stay in that bottom corner for time immemorial. And so it seemed as if the job had been done, but then a decision to open up the play a bit and attack the Dover lie under their posts blew up in PJF faces as Dover snuffed out the move, worked to steal the ball in the maul and broke away from their own try line. A 100 metre run by their centre was rewarded with what turned out to be the match's winning try. The conversion sealed it 25-19. And so from the jaws of victory PJF snatched defeat.

Too little time was left and PJF met the final whistle with yet again disappointment. Our congratulations and best wishes for next season go to Dover and as for PJF in the immortal words of Fred Astaire, it's a case of "pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again".

Quilter Kids First Champions winner – March: Minehead Barbarians RFC

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