Try bonus point for Wanderers but Canterbury maintain unbeaten record

Brett Scott attacks down the short side Photo Colin Whiteley

By Colin Whiteley

Canterbury 2s RFC 60 – 24 Thanet Wanderers RUFC

Results from the previous Saturday meant that Thanet were the league’s bottom club fs they lined up against the runaway league leaders. Danny Clement was back in the front row in an otherwise unchanged pack and Charlie Panteli’s return at ten, into a reshuffled backline, meant there were just two changes to the starting fifteen that played against Crowborough last week.

Luke Browning and  Max Rogers were on the bench with Connor Brown who made a welcome return to the squad for the first time this season. The match was played under floodlights and attracted a good number of supporters for both clubs.

Mike Whitehead throws in at a lineout

The hosts quickly demonstrated why they are number one in the league as they ran in four tries to gain a bonus point with just a quarter of the game played. Rogers was already on for Marius Thompson who had sustained the recurrence of an injury and Clement also had to take a break with Browning on at loosehead. Harrison Quittenden moved to full-back.

Thanet were competing strongly in The Pilgrims right hand corner and were playing with a penalty advantage when a cross-kick did not go to hand. The penalty set a Wanderers’ line out 15 metres out and the forwards’ pressure was rewarded with a third try of the season for veteran lock, Andy Letts. No conversion however Wanderers were on the board but trailing 22-5.

The Pilgrims replied with an unconverted try before Tom Walton scored a fine individual try that started in his own half before he kept out of the reach of all pursuers to touch down. He was unable to convert his own try and the score was 27-10 with half time near.

Brett Scott prepares for the lift with Connor Brown in support

A promising break from Max Rogers was ended by a good defensive tackle and the half ended with the scores unchanged.

Brown was on for the second half with Dennis Davies taking a break and Thompson returned, replacing Rogers.

An early penalty to the Pilgrims set them for some good phases and a converted try followed four minutes later by another touch down in the left corner that could not be converted but still opened up a 39-10 lead. Ten minutes into his first game of the season, Brown showed why he has been missed when he powered over from a line-out. Walton made a quality conversion from close to the touchline to make it 39-17.

Good handling from the hosts resulted in another try five minutes later that was converted. Quittenden’s tackle saved another near certain try before an error in Wanderers’ defence gifted the hosts their ninth try.

Joint Captains Sam Taylor (left) and Nick Herbert

Wanderers were intent on securing their fourth try and strong pressure on the home line eventually saw referee Billy Huntley lose patience with Pilgrims’ defenders and run to the posts to award Wanderers a penalty try. Thanet Left Winger, Andrew Dolan, now had to limp off and he was replaced by Wanderers joint skipper, wing forward Sam Taylor.

The patched up defence continued to contest everything until the final whistle but could not prevent one last try for the Pilgrims that made the final score 60-24.

Wanderers played Canterbury in their second fixture of the season and lost by three points after a very close match. The city side has gone from strength to strength since, with an unbeaten record and a largely young side. They were deserved winners today but it was good to see Wanderers battle hard throughout the eighty minutes and come away with a try bonus point and with spirits high for the New Year.

Wanderers next match is on the 6th of January 2024 at home against Beccehamian (Kick Off 2 PM) The West Wickham based side is currently in third place in the league and will provide a stern test to start off 2024.