By Colin Whiteley
THANET WANDERERS RUFC 28 – 8 FOLKESTONE RFC
For Thanet, injuries in last week’s win at Charlton Park sidelined second row Jack Startin and outside-half Marius Thompson where they joined two other reluctant spectators, Nick Herbert and. Charlie Knight, who between them had scored five of the seven tries that Thanet scored in the reverse fixture.
Lenny Brown started in the second row and Callum Doody at 10; Danny Clement and Andy Letts were on the bench.
Wanderers kicked off down the slope against a strong wind and Connor Brown’s early break took Wanderers deep into the visitors’ half before a knock on gave Folkestone the chance to clear long on the breeze.
James Hamilton gained many metres with a fine break and then James Green was on the point of touching down, before being held up over the line. Folkestone were settling and on fifteen minutes took three points from a penalty in front of the posts.
Tom Walton’s show and go and a nicely judged kick ahead ended in more frustration with a knock on when going for the line and again Folkestone cleared well to midfield. On 25 minutes Folkestone went further ahead with a nicely constructed try that featured most of their back line before the touch down wide left. No conversion but the visitors led 8-0.
Wanderers soon closed the gap as Walton moved an attack right before handing on to right-wing Ryan Copp who still had plenty to do as he stepped through a crowd of opposition defenders before touching down for Walton to convert and make it 7-8.
In the sixth minute of first half injury time, Walton dummied and waltzed his way through Folkestone’s defence to score a lovely try which he then converted for Wanderers to lead 14-8 at half-time.
Harry Clemo took a well-earned break after a knock early in the second half with Gully Goodall joining in the front row. Further breaks from Connor Brown and Walton kept Thanet on the offensive.
On 15 second half minutes the versatile Danny Clement replaced Harry Carter in the centre and Warren Riddell-Broomfield made way for Andy Letts.
Wanderers second try was scored by Lenny Brown, his second try of the season after a line-out and well controlled catch and drive. Walton’s excellent conversion stretched the lead to 21-8.
Green’s careless return of an opponent to safety, after a tackle, earned the loose-head ten minutes in the bin: a blip in an otherwise top performance from the experienced prop.
Thanet managed his absence well with Letts’ cover tackle, followed minutes later by a big break particularly valuable. Louis Marshall’s red card last week was speedily rescinded by Kent RFU this week which allowed the winger to play for an hour with Carter returning.
Restored to 15 players, Wanderers pressed for the important fourth try, Neil Wakefield made a great break before another knock on stalled the surge towards the line.
Clement was enjoying himself in the backline and after a penalty set good field position, 35 metres from Folkestone’s try line, he broke through the defensive line and the ball was moved quickly along Thanet’s line for Harry Carter to claim his second try for the first XV and secure the try bonus point. Walton’s superb conversion from wide left just crept over to seal a fine performance for Thanet’s scrum-half.
Thanet’s pack operated very well with hooker, Neil Wakefield, having an outstanding game both in the loose and at set pieces. He, and his experienced partner James Green, have formed good partnerships with young props Harry Clemo and Gully Goodall as did the two Browns operating in the second row.
Warren Riddell-Bloomfield has been on excellent form in the six shirt joining well with back row partners skipper Sam Taylor and ‘Mr Consistent’ James Hamilton to form a powerful unit. The subs were all forwards, Gully Goodall, Andy Letts, and Danny Clement, who promises he can play anywhere, played and made big contributions.
Thanet’s backs have not yet formed into a settled unit due principally to injuries and work commitments. There was experience in Ryan Copp and Louis Marshall on the wings and plenty of promise in young centres Harry Carter and Cameron Beck.
John Oxley, who joined us this season from Beccehamian, is a talented player who has played at full back in his four starts but can also play in the centre. Callum Doody was at stand-off rather than at his preferred scrum-half and performed well in his changed role.
At scrum half was Tom Walton who turned in a typically assured performance, scored a wonderful try and was a threat whenever he had the ball. His kicking was a revelation and helped him to the man of the match award on the day before his twenty-first birthday. Congratulations Tom.
The first XV are without a game this coming Saturday although the 2s face a long trek to face Southwark Lancers 2s in the second round of the Kent Shield. The 2s warmed up by defeating Medway by 43-22 and the 3s thrashed their Folkestone counterparts by 88-0 to maintain their push for league honours.