Disappointment for Wanderers in league opener at Ashford

Wanderers v Ashford

By Colin Whiteley

Ashford RFC 28 – Thanet Wanderers RUFC 10

Training had gone well for Wanderers in the preparation for the 2023/24 season and there was quiet optimism in the camp. For Thanet there was a first league start for Max Rogers at outside centre and Dennis Davies was a new face on the bench.

Thanet opened the game promisingly but conceded a very kickable penalty after seven minutes and Ashford led 3-0. On 15 minutes this became 8-0. A short throw to the front of a line-out, close to Thanet’s line, resulted in an untroubled quick dash to the line. Wanderers regrouped well, the forwards were competitive and the backs’ defence was sound. Their attacking threat was realised half way through the first period when joint-captain Nick Herbert combined well with Andrew Dolan to send Rogers in for a well worked try. Tom Walton’s conversion attempt was just wide but Thanet were on the scoreboard, 8-5.

Warren Riddell-Broomfield’s big tackle defused a promising home attack and the game was competitive but became ragged as a stream of penalties were noted in referee Katie Gent’s book. A further penalty after 37 minutes extended the home lead and Brett Scott was shown yellow for a high tackle. Marius Thompson received a knock and took a break, Louis Marshall replaced him in a re-jigged back line. Wanderers’ fourteen man defence did well to protect their line and half time came with the score 11-5.

The half time message from Thanet’s new coaching duo of Elliot Blackmore and Kieran Hopper worked wonders. In the first minute of the second period a great catch from Marshall instigated more magic from the threes before Rogers put Harrison Quittenden away to touch down in the corner. Walton’s conversion attempt faded just wide but there was just one point in it at 11-10.

Immediately from the restart Wanderers appeared to be clear, only to be recalled for a borderline forward pass. Five minutes into the half, a penalty again positioned Ashford on Thanet’s 5 metre line and once more the short throw to the front of the line-out brought an unconverted try for the host side. Four minutes later Ashford crossed wide right for their third try to widen the gap to 21-10 and were playing with their tails up. Crunching tackles from Herbert and Rogers helped to maintain that margin before Lenny Brown withdrew from the second row and Dennis Davies went on for his first XV debut with around twenty minutes to play.

As Ashford battled for their fourth try, Wanderers winger Harrison Quittenden was adjudged to have stamped on an opponent and shown a straight red card. Faced with 14 men for the closing minutes the home side crossed for a fourth try that was converted for a 28-10 win. That brought them their try bonus point and second place in the season’s first league table for Counties One Kent. The two sides will meet on the final league match at St Peters on April 6th.

Thanet’s pack put in in big performance against a heavier eight and joint skipper, Sam Taylor, can be pleased with his first full game after missing last season following knee surgery. The backs  produced some nice handling that could have harvested more than a couple of tries on a more favourable day. Adam Harrison at inside centre has made himself Mr Reliable in Wanderers backline and enhanced his reputation with another fine shift despite the hard ground.

Next Saturday (23rd) Canterbury 2s are the visitors to St Peters. They started their league programme with a try bonus point win against last season’s high fliers, Beccehamian. Kick Off is at 3PM.


Clement D., Whitehead M., Goodall G., Letts A., Brown L.,Riddell-Broomfield W.,Taylor S.,(JC)

Scott B., Walton T., Herbert N., (JC) Quittenden H., Harrison A., Rogers M., Dolan A., Thompson M., SUBS. Pearson K., Davies D., Marshall L.