Report and photos by Colin Whiteley
CROWBOROUGH RFC 35 – 10 THANET WANDERERS RUFC
There was a new face in the front-row for Thanet where Ryan Robinson-Smith debuted and in the second row, Kieran Wright replaced Connor Brown, who was unavailable. Nick Herbert, Charlie Knight, Callum Doody and Marius Thompson returned to their backs’ line-up.
Wanderers kicked off and attacked down the hosts’ left, and there was soon an early yellow for a Crowborough defender. On six minutes, a line-out, 25 metres out, saw Wanderers’ pack drive for the line but play was quickly halted when Thanet’s Kieran Wright went down with a neck injury. Great care was taken in assessment before he could be removed from the field of play on a board and play did not restart for over twenty minutes.
On the resumption, Crowborough were quick to seize the initiative and a penalty set them deep in Wanderers half. Crowborough’s yellow carded player returned and their attacks stretched Wanderers before, Thanet’s scrum-half, Harrison Leach, also received a yellow card. The hosts increased the pressure through their powerful pack and took the lead after 23 minutes of play with a try that was well converted. Leach returned from his yellow to find Crowborough still dominating possession and stealing a line-out 25 metres from Thanet’s line that led to try number two that was converted to make their lead 14-0 at half time.
Three minutes into the second half, Wanderers lock forward Jack Startin was spotted offside and was also shown yellow by today’s referee, Simon Musslewhite. Four minutes later the hosts scored a third try from a determined individual effort and with the conversion led 21-0. Wanderers now produced some fine flowing rugby that created an overlap and Leach was the scorer. Tom Walton’s good conversion attempt shaved the wrong side of the post.
Startin returned and Wanderers good spell continued with Walton’s excellent penalty setting a good attacking position. After collecting a long Crowborough clearance Thompson ran back at pace and linked with Knight and Walton before Andrew Dolan on the wing touched down. No conversion but Wanderers were potentially in the game at 21-10 with a quarter of an hour remaining.
It was Crowborough who raised their game in the gathering gloom however and with Wanderers conceding penalties to keep their line intact the hosts claimed their bonus point try and in the closing minutes put the cherry on the cake of a good afternoon with another converted try to run out deserved 35-10 winners.
Wanderers will be disappointed with their failure to turn good scoring opportunities into points and with the amount of turnovers they conceded at breakdowns.
Thanet’s man of the match was young Noah Dann who was at open-side. Noah has made big strides in his first season with the first fifteen where his ability at the breakdown and defensive skills are proving to be a great asset. There is plenty of talent in the Wanderers ranks to turn the season around and although there is no match for Wanderers first XV next Saturday, they resume with a home fixture against fellow strugglers, Aylesford, on 29th November. Kick off is at 2.30pm.
Thank you to Crowborough RFC for their wonderful help in the care for Wanderers injured player Kieran Wright which illustrates the strength of the ties in the rugby family. Neck injuries demand the most careful attention and the experience of Crowborough’s Lead Sports Therapist Mike Chuchyard was invaluable to Wanderers Physio, Fran Rafiq assisted by Harry Clemo. Thank you too to Crowborough’s President, David Clarke, who provided support and encouragement to Kieran during the many hours waiting for an ambulance and special thanks to ex A&E Matron, Abby Ayres who facilitated its earlier arrival.
It is great to report that Kieran was released from hospital just before midnight when he thanked everyone for their support to him and his family as he spent seven hours on a spinal board. Fortunately his injuries were to the soft tissue in his neck with some whiplash symptoms and he is aiming to be back playing in a few weeks time (maybe sooner!)