Hard earned victory for Wanderers against determined opponents

Nick Herbert passes to Cameron Beck

By Colin Whiteley


James Green was a late withdrawal for Wanderers with Jay Sanford filling the loose-head position and Andy Letts replaced Lenny Brown in the second row following the birth of his second child. Notable in many changes to the Wanderers back line was the return after injury of John Oxley at full-back to play against the club where his rugby career started.

Wanderers opened brightly but were soon on the back-foot after the hosts’ kicker set an attack five metres out from a penalty. Thanet’s defence was equal to that challenge but a good tackle from Harry Carter was then required to halt another Beccehamian attack.

James Hamilton is surrounded

After eight minutes Thanet were penalised for holding on and from 20 metres out their kicker gave Beccehamian a 3-0 lead.

Sanford received a knock and was forced off with Danny Clement replacing him. On eighteen minutes, Charlie Knight grasped the ball near his own 22 metre line and set off on a brilliant run to touch down just left of the home posts. Tom Walton added the extras for Thanet to lead 7-3. Skipper Sam Taylor was now forced off after a knock with David Lemon replacing him. With a couple of minutes remaining before the half-time whistle, Beccehamian mounted a strong attack and drove over under the posts to take a 10-7 lead into the break.

Neil Wakefield, Harry Clemo and Tom Walton defend their try line

Taylor returned to the fray as Wanderers now had the benefit of the strong wind for the second half.  Good defence from both sides during the opening fifteen minutes of the second period were offset by a series of poorly directed kicks that advanced neither side’s cause.

The hosts broke the deadlock when taking the three points from a penalty to be six points ahead 13-7. Wanderers were quick to retaliate and after a penalty set a line out on the home 22, it was scrum-half, Tom Walton who weaved his way through the blindside defence to touch down wide right. He then made a fine, touchline conversion to give Wanderers a 14-13 lead.

Defences continued to rule and big tackles from Clement and Knight typified Thanet’s resolve. Wanderers continued to attack until the end but there was no way through the obdurate home defence for them and they had to settle for the four points that the win brought.

Cameron Beck and Charlie Knight at the breakdown

Wanderers Head Coach Mike Pond said:  ”To win away from home when not playing at your best is always good but it’s not pretty to watch. An improved display will be needed against Crowborough next weekend if our 5-match unbeaten run is to continue.”

The Crowborough game is Wanderers’ final home match of the season and will kick off at 3 PM. It will be preceded at 1.45 PM by a curtain raiser match between the recently re-formed Thanet Wanderers Women’s team who will take on a development team from Dartford Valley Ladies.

This is the first time for many years that Wanderers have fielded a women’s team so support is being asked for to mark this piece of club history.

In the clubhouse, members will be entertaining the club’s sponsors at lunch and tickets are still available. It’s a noon meet for a 12.30 sit down for a four-course lunch for just £20. It is hoped to conduct the  ‘Big Draw’ for the annual £5000 big prize after the match with a drinks voucher for all syndicate members.

SQUAD: Jay Sanford, Neil Wakefield, Harry Clemo, Andy Letts, Jack Startin, Warren Riddell-Bloomfield, Sam Taylor,(c), James Hamilton, Tom Walton, Nick Herbert, Harry Carter, Cam Beck, Charlie Knight, Callum Doody, John Oxley, Subs: Danny Clement, David Lemon, Kris Finneran.