Close contest in the mud but Dover take league points

Preparing for the final scrum of a wet and muddy match

By Colin Whiteley

Dover RFC 14 – 5 Thanet Wanderers RUFC

The reverse fixture ended in a 22-22 draw after an exciting encounter in November. However, Dover have enjoyed a good series of results and are currently sixth in Counties League One Kent: Wanderers remain in tenth place.

For Wanderers, Luke Browning and Kurt Pearson started in the front row with Dennis Davies replacing Connor Brown in the second row. Louis Marshal and Harrison Quittenden were also unavailable and were replaced by Callum Doody at outside centre and Ellis Taylor on the wing. Wanderers played with their shirts inside out to avoid a clash with Dover’s shirts which are also blue.

Heavy rain during the hour before kick-off, followed by heavy showers throughout the game, made conditions very difficult but just playable. An early attack by Dover down their left wing was not dealt with by Thanet’s defence and a quality conversion from wide out gave the hosts a valuable 7-0 lead after three minutes.

Captain Sam Taylor receives the ball at a breakdown

Wanderers responded well but a lengthy attack was ended when a penalty allowed Dover to clear to halfway and enjoy a spell of dominance of possession that was well contained by the Wanderers. Two quick penalties and a good nudge from Henry Mirams, at full-back, set Wanderers on the attack. Winger, Lewis Downer appeared to have touched down after a good chase but was judged to have been just outside the narrow in goal area. Both teams showed great defence and for Wanderers Henry Mirams was superb as he was peppered by high balls from the hosts. Dover’s outside centre had to withdraw through injury and a tap penalty from Nick Herbert took Wanderers close but there was no change to the 7-0 score before half time.

Dover went down to 14 players after seven minutes of the second period following a yellow card. Wanderers battled hard to get over the line but Dover stood firm and then extended their lead with a try in the right corner and the extras were added with another fine kick to give them a 14-0 lead. Wanderers tight-head, Gully Goodall, was having another good game but had to withdraw following a knock to the head from a stray knee. Wanderers spent long spells camped near to the home line but could not cross it.

Callum Doody about to be tackled

Eventually, playing with an advantage, fly-half Charlie Panteli’s cross kick was well collected by Downer for him to touch down wide right. Tom Walton’s attempted conversion fell agonisingly just short but with around twenty minutes remaining, Thanet were in the match. Dover responded strongly and Callum Doody was shown yellow for a deliberate knock on. Despite being a man down, Wanderers’ defence was not to be breached again. The nearest they came to adding to their score came following a charge down from Mirams but there was no addition to the score before young referee, Oliver Smith, who had a good afternoon, blew for full time.

The early try that was conceded was an anomaly in an otherwise determined and effective defensive display from the Wanderers. The challenge that the difficult conditions presented for both sides and the referee did not prevent them all from producing a watchable game,  even when it was nearly impossible to distinguish between the players.

Andy Letts faces the Dover defensive line

There is no game for the first XV next Saturday. They return to action on the 16th of March when Charlton Park are the visitors. Kick Off 3 PM.  This is a crucial fixture for both sides so a competitive match is likely. Prior to the match, there will be a Community, fund-raising, lunch in aid of the Wanderers Send Programme. Please do try to support this very worthwhile initiative. Details are on the club’s social media.