By Matthew Hickmott
Thanet Wanderers Colts 16 V Ashford 12
On Sunday Colts travelled to Ashford to play in the fourth round of the Kent League games. Thanet were looking for a positive reaction to their performance in the last round.
The weather was again wet! Lots of rain and most thought it was probably going to get Called off, but this is rugby and we don’t stop for a bit of rain, do we?
Thanet initially had a squad if 20, that had withdrawals though injuries and other commitments, but with some late call ups still had a strong squad of 19 that made it to Ashford despite road closures and the bad weather.
The game kicked off and Thanet straight away had the look of a team ready to put behind them an off performance on the last outing. Ashford decided to kick for territory and gave full back Henry Carruthers lots of testing high balls that he came through with flying colours and really took the game to them.
Both teams were making breaks and putting their tackling skills into practice, with Isaac Divine racking up huge numbers and others including Finn Hickmott, Ollie Jordan Smith and Toby Hunt all too making massive hits and all battling it out in the rucks.
In the 9th minute, Thanet had been applying a lot of pressure to the Ashford defence. Tom O’Callaghan from scrum half making probing run after run. Hugo Evans and Harrison Quittenden making great breaks and the ball eventually found the speedy Stanley Ball on the wing for him to power over. Brilliant for Ball on his return to the team from injury.
The Wanderers scrum was again back to its imperious best with the front three of captain Max Anderson, Fred O’Halloran and Ben Couldridge dictating the push and had it not been for the one and half meter limit on the push, they could have carried onto the next town. Alfie Pearce on the other wing again showed his skill, foot work speed.
Around 14 minutes into the game the Ashford 7 had a bit of a rush of blood to the head and dump tackled Zach Ralph to ground on his neck, a dangerous move that went unpunished. Unfortunately we had to withdraw Ralph for safety reasons to monitor him, a real shame as he was having a great game to that point. Alfie Reeves then came on and had some immediate great carries.
In the 25th minute Thanet were awarded a penalty which Charlie Panteli elected to kick. In tough conditions he showed why he is highly regarded as a 10 on the pitch and as always valuable to the team.
At half time the score was Ashford 0 Thanet 8. Wanderers had had the better of the game, probably guilty of not using their wide players enough at times when we could have done but nonetheless still satisfied with the general performance.
Second half kicked off and all replacements were on the pitch including Joe Sykes, Joseph Near and Will Mahoney. Thanet immediately went on the attack, Mahoney having a great strong carry on the wing and after putting pressure on Ashford defence on their 22, their winger tried to pass back inside but this was anticipated by Hickmott who intercepted the ball and ran in unopposed to score and put the St Peter’s boys 13-0 up.
Ashford fought back into the game and in the 40th minute after a powerful drive crashed over to score and this was converted. Thanet then saw more of the ball with Near winning it back and Sykes trying to break the lines.
Thanet lost a little discipline when Reeves first was picked up for two no wrap tackles, which if he had got it right, which he will going forward he will have a big effect with. Also a few minutes later Evans was picked up for two quick high tackles and both received yellow cards. Down to 13 players, Thanet battled hard and dug in but a few minutes later lost another try to reduce their lead to one point.
Once back up to the full 15, Thanet finished the game strongly with Their fitness paying off. They could have had a few more tries but for a bit better passing and using the wide players but to settle the nerves with two minutes to go, Panteli kicked over the final three points from a penalty to put wanders fours up all the way to the final whistle.
The result was Thanet Wanderers 16 Ashford 12. A dogged performance from the team. Battling when down to 13 players to maintain their foothold in the game and managing to push up field too. A good showing in tough conditions.
Across the team there were a lot of excellent performances throughout the team. But this week the ‘Please Sir’ man of the match has gone to Max Anderson. Max put in some huge tackles , carried very well and as always captained the side and really gave everything throughout. Well done Max.
Thanet Wanderers Colts:
Max Anderson (C), Fred O’Halloran, Ben Couldridge, Hugo Evans, Finn Hickmott, Isaac Divine, Charlie Panteli, Alfie Pearce, Harrison Quittenden, Henry Curruthers, Tom O’Callaghan, Joseph Near, Toby Hunt, Will Mahoney, Joe Sykes, Ollie Jordan Smith, Alfie Reeves, Zach Ralph, Stanley Ball.