Game of ‘two halves’ as Wanderers take on Beckenham

Ryan Copp leads the defensive line as Beckenham mount an early attack

By Colin Whiteley

Beckenham RFC 51-28 Thanet Wanderers RUFC

The cliché, “A game of two halves”, proved only too appropriate for Thanet supporters after their visit to Beckenham.

There were three season debuts, with Ryan Copp at inside centre, Callum Doody on the wing and Lennie Brown on the bench, bringing the total to thirty players who have featured for Thanet in their four league matches to date.

Beckenham started strongly and when making an early tackle, Thanet Full-Back Ollie Greene Taylor, suffered a head injury that caused his withdrawal. He was replaced by Harrison Leach who did well in the unfamiliar role for the remainder of the half.

Minutes later Beckenham took advantage of some gaps in defence to run in a try that was converted by Louis Richards, who was faultless off the kicking tee. Wanderers had been too hurried early in the match but as they settled, Marius Thompson, at ten, broke the line and outside centre Charlie Knight finished well.

Thompson’s conversion levelled the scores at 7-7 but the hosts were soon back in front with a penalty. Wanderers were playing good rugby with plenty of sharp handling and Knight appeared to have notched his second try. However, the referee deemed that there had been a high tackle in the process of his touching down and the try will stand as a penalty try rather than another try for Thanet’s stand-in skipper.   Around 30 minutes of the half had been played when a Thanet penalty for not rolling set a good attacking line-out. A well organised catch and drive ended with scrum half Tom Walton poaching the score for Thompson to convert and leave the half time score at 21-10 to Wanderers.

Wanderers defence forms to withstand another second half attack.

Half-time changes for Thanet brought on Brown to a revamped back-row and Leach moved to scrum-half in a switch with Walton. During the half, Centre Ryan Copp was cramping and was replaced by front row Sub, Danny Clement, who himself soon had to return to the touchline nursing a dislocated finger and broken bone in his hand. The half-time changes to the home side made a significant difference after the break, particularly up front.

Wanderers could not consistently match the intensity of the home side and tries came five minutes into the half, followed by three more and a penalty, all converted by Richards before Thanet’s perseverance was rewarded.

Fifteen minutes remained when a determined assault on the home line brought the bonus point try for Lennie Brown. An excellent conversion from Thompson showed his kicking boots to be in order for when he again joins up with the Norway side next weekend. The score was 34-28 but any hopes of a Thanet revival were soon snuffed out with an injury hit defence struggling to plug gaps as the hosts added a penalty and two more converted tries for a decisive 51-28 victory, with 21 of them coming from Richards’ remorseless boot.

Man of the Match, James Hamilton, reaches high at the lineout.

Thanet Coaches named Number Eight, James Hamilton, as the Wanderers Man of the Match. James who originates from New Zealand joined Wanderers at the beginning of the season and has become an essential part of their pack playing mainly at eight. His influence at the line-out and in defence was immense in this game and this was a well deserved award.

The coaches will be hoping that some of those currently injured will be able to return for next week’s home fixture against Charlton Park (Kick Off 3 PM), who are presently in second place in the league. Many Wanderers from seasons past will be returning to St Peters that afternoon to honour the memory of Colin Brown who made a great contribution to the club in seasons past and whose family will now ensure his name will remain a part of the fabric of the club for years to come.

SQUAD: James Green; Neil Wakefield; Alex Tuddenham; Jack Startin; Andy Letts; Warren Riddell-Broomfield; Kris Finneran; James Hamilton; Tom Walton; Marius Thompson; Louis Marshall; Ryan Copp; Charlie Knight (c); Callum Doody; Ollie Greene-Taylor. SUBS:

Danny Clement; Lennie Brown; Harrison Leach.