Wanderers overturn half-time deficit to record handsome win against Ashford

The team

By Colin Whiteley

Thanet Wanderers 2s 46 -17 Ashford 2s

There was an encouraging debut for Wanderers for Ed Wheeler at inside-centre with Harry Carter as his partner in midfield and Matt Masundi stepped up to play an excellent game at Number eight after a run out in the 3s last week.

It was the visitors, playing up the slope, who set the early pace and after a couple of penalties gave good position, ran in an unconverted try. Thanet conceded penalties that cost them promising opportunities and lost left wing Tyler Chance after he had to retire with a knee injury: Henry Mirams replaced him.

Wanderers defensive line

Ashford scored a second try on eighteen minutes when a Wanderers move broke down in the visitors’ half and one of their speedsters raced away to increase the lead to 12-0. Wanderers kicker, full back, Sam Rolfe made two very difficult penalty opportunities look easy to make it 12-6. Number 7, Noah Dann, had to withdraw after an opponent’s boot connected with his nose. He was replaced by Harrison Elks who was straight into the action with an important tackle. Right wing, Tom Stevens, now broke well before passing to Rolfe who finished the try but could not convert it to leave it at 12-11 to Ashford. On the stroke of half-time, a drive from Ashford’s pack brought them a third try and made their lead 17-11 at the break.

Wanderers had the breeze at their backs for the second half and Peter Macaulay was quick to send his line away with crisp handling, ending with Stevens touching down. Rolfe converted to put Thanet into an 18-17 lead. Mirams’ chip ahead was then not well dealt with by Ashford in their in-goal area and Thanet felt they had touched down.

Referee, Gareth Waldron, who handled a very competitive game well, decided on a 5 metre scrum for Wanderers. Thanet’s front row Luke Browning, Reagan Doody and Andy Bourton battled for the line and kept their collective cool well in the face of provocation but they could find no way through. Eventually the ball was spun to scrum-half, Harrison Leach, who showed the way to the line with a fine individual try which Rolfe converted to make it 25-17.

Henry Mirams passes to Peter Macaulay

Minutes later Stevens scored his second of the afternoon when more sharp handling amongst the backs ended with the right-winger scoring confidently for Rolfe to add the extras and make it 32-17.  Leach again broke free five minutes later and managed to get a pass away to Macaulay as he was tackled allowing the fly-half to stroll over the line for yet another try in the blue, black and gold of Thanet. There was just time for Tom Stevens to claim his hat-trick, following on from last week’s brace.

Mirams’ great chase put pressure on a defender and his weak clearance was gratefully seized by Stevens to run in for try number three. Rolfe’s conversion made the final score 46-17, following a fine second half performance which was a tribute to the team’s fitness.

Billy Ingram tackles

This was a terrific comeback for the Thanet side with everyone playing their part. Replacement  Billy Ingram showed well and in the pack, the second row pairing of Matt Jacobs and Tyler Cawood put in tremendous shifts. Kieran Wright, at six, was again outstanding as was Tom Stevens in contributing three tries to the cause.

However the coaches’ choice as man of the match was Sam Rolfe. The full-back barely put a foot wrong as he ignited the Wanderers’ flame with a try and two first half penalties and missed only one kick from the tee to register a personal tally of 21 points.

There is no fixture for the 2s this week as the first XV return to action with a home fixture against Bromley (Kick Off 3pm).