By Colin Whiteley
Thanet Wanderers RUFC 2s 27- 7 Snowdown C.W. RFC
This fixture was rearranged from the warmth of September to a cold windy November day although at least the sun shone. It was good to see referee, Ben Preece, back, out of retirement, at St Peters keeping order with his usual authority and unflappable manner. Ben was a welcome regular visitor some years ago before he earned the move to the RFU panel of referees for the higher leagues.
Thanet, who started the game in sixth place, kicked off down the slope against ninth placed Snowdown and had the better of early exchanges. On five minutes Wanderers took a 3-0 lead when Lewis Downer confidently converted a penalty opportunity from around thirty metres. Snowdown sent a penalty close to set a good position. A chip ahead was not dealt with in Thanet’s defence and the visitors were quick to run in a try five metres from the right touch line.
The quality conversion meant Snowdown were 7-3 ahead with 13 minutes played. Some kick tennis looked to be going nowhere before a well-judged kick bounced favourably for Wanderers and Callum Doody raced in to touch down midway between the posts and the touchline. Downer’s conversion was good and Wanderers went ahead 10-7.
Moments after the restart, Doody’s cross kick looked to have been gathered by winger Tom Stevens but play was returned to midfield for a penalty for a Snowdown high tackle. There was no further score before half time and with just three points between the sides it was a game that could go either way in the second half.
Coaches, Bill Wallace and Peter Macaulay, brought on some of their replacements for the second half although Macaulay was not among them, despite being listed. An injured knee prevented his participation.
An early score was needed and Tighthead Mike Morris made a couple of bustling carries which gained good metres. However, in the face of some determined defence from the visitors, it took around fifteen minutes before Wanderers managed a second try. Fran Gillespie was one of the half time replacements as he works his way back to full fitness after injury. Now, his speed was evident as he ran in from deep to score and Downer’s conversion gave Wanderers a 17 – 7 lead.
The kicker soon found himself on the try list when, following a quick penalty, Downer backed himself and shook off tacklers before touching down. He could not convert the try but Thanet were ahead 22-7. The visitors were visibly tiring as the final whistle neared. Harrison Elks capped an excellent performance when he grabbed a loose ball that popped out of a ruck and cruised to the try line for Wanderers’ fourth try. There was no conversion and the game closed with Wanderers the winners by 27-7.
Credit goes to Snowdown for making it an interesting and competitive match, despite struggling with numbers and injuries. Wanderers will be happy to have caught up with some of their rivals in terms of matches played and should move into the top four with the win. There was a good mix of experience and youth in the team which showed great pace in attack. Chris Gregory and Matt Jacobs were a good pairing in the second row and Harrison Quittenden was frequently the speedy spark that initiated Wanderers attacks. Scrum half Owen Jordan enjoyed another fine game: he was quick to see an opening and defended well. He was the coaches choice as Wanderers’ man of the match.
Next week the 2s will entertain Canterbury who are presently in seventh place in the league. Kick Off is at 2pm. Please support, if you are not travelling to South London to support the first XV at Charlton Park.
SQUAD: Tom Welsh, Regan Doody, Mike Morris, Chris Gregory, Matt Jacobs, Dennis Davies, Harrison Elks, Flynn Shingles, Owen Jordan, Callum Doody, Tom Stevens (c), Lewis Downer, Abe Kilic, Will Mahoney, Harrison Quittenden. SUBs: Bill Wallace, Joe Near, Owen Read, Fran Gillespie, Josh Dury, Peter Macaulay.