By Colin Whiteley
THANET WANDERERS RUFC 41- 32 FOLKESTONE RFC.
There was another fresh combination in the front row for Wanderers with Danny Clement at loose-head and Gully Goodall at tighthead supporting Mike Whitehead at Hooker. Kurt Pearson moved to the back row where Lenny Brown was also back at 8 replacing the injured Connor Brown. Nick Herbert returned to captain the team at outside half, Tom Walton was at full back and Marius Thompson moved to the wing.
Thanet kicked off down the slope on a mild afternoon with a gentle breeze and an early penalty took them to in front of the clubhouse. Good ball was obtained from the lineout and Nick Herbert sent Danny Clement away to cut a nice diagonal line finishing under the posts with not a hint that he had been celebrating his brother, Antony’s wedding the previous day.
Tom Walton added the extras and the Wanderers were 7-0 up after just four minutes. Folkestone tested the home defence and there were penalties for both sides before the visitors took the easy points from in front after ten minutes of play. Minutes later the ball went at pace from a Thanet scrum along the line to Marius Thompson who made good metres before handing inside for Walton to finish in the corner to extend the lead to 12-3.
Walton aggravated an existing injury in the race to the line and was replaced by Harrison Quittenden from the bench. Wanderers’ third try came following more attractive handling in the backs and ended with Lock Forward Andy Letts claiming his third try in as many weeks. Thompson’s conversion attempt came back off a post.
Folkestone threatened the hosts’ line but two big tackles from Callum Doody kept the home line secure before Goodall grabbed a loose ball and tore away from his 22 to the visitors’ ten-metre line. After 30 minutes of play, Folkestone scored a well-constructed try that was converted to make the score 17-10. Four minutes later, Wanderers Captain Nick Herbert, scored an excellent individual try when receiving from a scrum on Folkestone’s ten-metre line he first cut left selling dummies before he headed back to touch down under the posts for the try bonus point. Thompson converted for 24-10. Henry Mirams was called back for a forward pass as he headed for the line.
A strong forward drive pushed towards the line but when Herbert received, he handed on to Louis Marshall who cut a nice line in from his wing to wrong-foot the visitors’ defence and score under the posts. Thompson’s conversion made the halftime score 31-10.
Folkestone made a fast start to the second half and got behind Thanet’s defensive line to touch down for an unconverted try. Joe Carlier had replaced Clement at the break but now Whitehead had to withdraw and Clement found himself back in the fray. Thompson took three points from a penalty in front and 25 metres out to make the score 34-15 but five minutes later the visitors caught Wanderers napping and a quick tap penalty led to a try for the visitors that was not converted.
Wanderers hit back when Herbert and Harrison combined to release Mirams who sped through a gap in the Folkestone line to score under the posts and Thompson converted to put Thanet 41-20 ahead. Letts was shown yellow and limped off. Folkestone registered their try bonus point after some sharp handling and Wanderers needed Doody’s big clearance to draw breath. Thanet appeared to be tiring and in the second minute of added time, Folkestone broke from their half and went clear of some tentative defending to score under the posts. The conversion led to a 41-32 scoreline.
The excellent referee, Lewis Franks, soon sounded the final whistle and the home supporters could finally relax. This was a good, sportingly contested game that will have entertained any neutral spectators present.
The win means Wanderers leapfrog Folkestone into ninth place in Counties League One Kent with 24 points against today’s opponents, who have played one game more, 21 points.
On Saturday Thanet entertain Crowborough who are in the bottom two of the league. Both they and the bottom team, Aylesford had morale-boosting wins against high-flying opponents this weekend so their spirit should be high. Please support the Wanderers in this crucial fixture with just four league games remaining.
Wanderers Coaches were pleased with the patience shown in building their attacks and it was good to see how well Colts, Harrison Quittenden and Sam Molyneux, who debuted from the bench, slotted into the team. There were great shifts from Jack Startin in the second row and on the flank of the pack from Warren Riddell-Broomfield (who will miss the rest of the league season).
Nick Herbert had a fine game at Ten and combined well with inside centre Adam Harrison who defended strongly and broke the visitors’ line many times. He was the Wanderers’ man of the match.