By Colin Whiteley
Thanet Wanderers RFC 23 – 10 Deal & Betteshanger Lions RFC
For Thanet, Regan Doody continued as hooker in the absence of the injured Neil Wakefield and Connor Brown returned at number 8. Tom Walton was at scrum-half and there was a debut for Andrew Dolan on the right-wing. Elliot Blackmore took charge of the side with Head Coach Mike Pond away on holiday.
Deal kicked off, up the slope, against a chilly northerly wind and early penalties were swapped. Both defences were tested before on ten minutes, after a good long line-out, Nick Herbert broke strongly and quality handling allowed Walton to back himself and touch down for the opening try. Thompson’s conversion attempt was just wide so Thanet led 5-0.
After a good competitive first twenty minutes the visitors took the points from a penalty 20 metres out for 5-3. Full back Marius Thompson caught and ran back making good metres before being brought down, Dolan advanced confidently before being engulfed and the ball was lost as Connor Brown threatened the line. Wanderers’ confidence was clearly growing.
The Lions’ 6 was shown yellow after persistent offside calls and Thompson’s penalty, ten minutes before half time, from thirty odd metres, made it 8-3. Tight-Head, Harry Clemo’s strong scrummaging helped to win a scrum penalty before a further two penalties set Thanet near the opposition line, only for the line-out to be lost at the close of the first half.
Five minutes into the second half, patient work from Thanet’s pack set the platform for the ball to be spread quickly through the hands to Dolan to finish for a debut try. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 13-3. The visitors then foiled an attempt to run out from deep from Wanderers and after severe pressure over five minutes secured a well worked try under the posts for 13-10.
Thanet rang the changes with Mike Morris on for Clemo, Lenny Brown replaced Andy Letts and Callum Doody took over on the left wing from Louis Marshall. Wanderers responded well to the visitors’ challenge and midway through the half, after a move that started in our 22, Walton sped away and made good metres before finding Thompson in support to score wide right; no conversion, but the hosts were ahead 18-10.
Ten minutes later, the fourth try again had roots in Thanet’s own half. Two penalties from Herbert set the hosts deep in Deal’s 22 before Morris broke well from the end of a line-out and some inspired handling between Herbert and Callum Doody saw the substitute winger finish well for the try bonus point.
There were one or two anxious moments for Wanderers in the closing minutes of the half which was extended by eleven minutes due to the frequent injury breaks, but there was no further score and Wanderers had won 23-10.
This was a good, well supported local derby with Wanderers having to work hard for their five points. Coach Blackmore praised his side’s performance and the hard work in training that showed during this match. A much improved defence was key to the victory with Charlie Knight and Herbert outstanding. There were many excellent performances from the team but the Coaches’ choice as Man of the Match was number 8, Connor Brown, whose strength in the carry and fine all round game made him a constant threat to the opposition.
Next the team travel to Old Alleynians in Dulwich for what is sure to be a tough match. Please support if you can.
SQUAD: James Green, Regan Doody, Harry Clemo, Jack Startin, Andy Letts, Warren Riddell-Bloomfield, James Hamilton, Connor Brown, Tom Walton, Nick Herbert. Louis Marshall, Cameron Beck, Charlie Knight, Andrew Dolan, Marius Thompson. SUBS. Mike Morris, Lenny Brown, Callum Doody.