Rugby: Dagenham deflated despite Mavericks draw
PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 January 2019
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Dagenham dug deep to earn a 19-19 draw with unbeaten Essex League Division One leaders Mavericks, but left deflated with promotion hopes hanging by a thread.
The visiting pack took time to settle and handling errors did not help the cause either, but some strong scrummaging allowed Josh Cook clean ball.
Disaster struck as captain Joe Parkin, lineout leader David Genovesa and winger Jermaine Darkwa went off with serious-looking injuries in a 10-minute spell, but Dave Purton, James Garwood and Tom Preston stood up to be counted.
Mavericks opened the scoring with a try following a line break, but Ds hit back with some good carries and a penalty was turned down in favour of going for the line.
Persistence paid off as Preston was put into space and shrugged off tackles to score in the corner to level.
Mavericks regained the lead before half time with a penalty and after Nathan Farrell saw yellow, pushed over for a second-half try to go 13-5 up.
The hosts went down to 14 men and Ds saw Frankie Neale score a converted try to cut the gap to one, only for two Mavericks penalties to make it 19-12 with 1 minutes left.
With a 13-game unbeaten run on the line, Dagenham turned the screw up front and a huge effort from the pack led to a penalty try with one minute left.
Nonetheless coach Ray Lagden said: “This was one that got away. Too many players didn’t perform, we missed too many tackles, our line speed was slow and attacking play ponderous.
“We owe a lot to the defensive commitment of George Wren and James Garwood, there were times it looked like we only had five forwards on the pitch.”
Head coach Brian Wren added: “We’ve commented on the fact complacency was a worry at training for the past few weeks and it seems we’ve let it get the better of us at the most crucial time.
“Maybe it’s time to change things up. If our forwards don’t come to the party as a group in next week’s semi-final against a huge Billericay pack we could be in for a tough game.”
Dagenham visit Billericay on Saturday for a place in the final of the Essex Presidents Shield.