Improved second half performance cannot save Wanderers from costly defeat

Brett Scott breaks Photo Andy Mair

By Colin Whiteley

Thanet Wanderers RUFC 12-27 Charlton Park RFC

Gabe Hayden returned as Wanderers hooker but regular tighthead, Gully Goodall, was a late withdrawal from the side after sustaining an injury whilst training. Jack Brewer made his first team debut at tighthead and Luke Browning completed a youthful front row.

Adam Harrison started, for the first time since October, at inside centre, Louis Marshall was on the wing and Callum Doody started at full-back in the absence of Henry Mirams who was working.

Wanderers kicked off down the slope and co-captain, Sam Taylor was prominent in an early attack that was ended due to crossing. Park’s 10 was shown an early yellow for a high tackle.

On ten minutes, Wanderers’ Blindside, Warren Riddell-Bloomfield had to be withdrawn with a badly cut knee. Connor Brown replaced him playing in the second row with Dennis Davies moving to the back row.

Sammy Taylor tackles Photo Andy Mair

A free kick to the visitors gave them a useful attacking position and a try soon followed around five metres in from the touchline.  A good conversion opened up a 7-0 lead for Park. Four minutes later a speculative punt from the visitors was allowed to bounce and a bit of nifty footwork from an attacker saw Park grab a second try and take a 14-0 lead after just sixteen minutes.

Ten minutes later, Park slotted a penalty to further extend their lead. Hayden now suffered a leg injury and was forced off. Thanks to the Park players who helped with the injury assessment and Gabe’s safe removal from the pitch. Kurt Pearson replaced him and put in a lively shift in open play. Callum Doody had moved to his favoured scrum half position with Tom Walton moving into a reshuffled backline. Wanderers Co-Captains now shone with good work from Taylor earning a penalty and Nick Herbert’s tackle snuffing out a threatening attack. Wanderers will count themselves unlucky with a couple of decisions that did not go their way but in the final minutes of the first half Wanderers were settling. Number Eight, Brett Scott was at his best and his experience with that of Andy Letts had helped to even up the contest with an experienced Park pack.

Callum Doody passes Photo Andy Mair

Thanet withstood an early onslaught from Park as the second half began and after ten minutes a nicely judged kick from Charlie Panteli was grabbed by Louis Marshall with the winger making useful metres before handing on to Adam Harrison to finish off wide right. No conversion but Wanderers were on the board 17-5.

Good work from Connor Brown earned a penalty that Walton despatched high and long to set get field position. Wanderers were pressing hard but were judged to have offended and the visitors were able to clear and set their own attack. A misjudged Thanet line-out opened the door for Park to touch down for their third try which was not converted. Wanderers responded minutes later through Nick Herbert who showed great perseverance to chase a loose ball and touch down under the posts. Panteli added the extras to make the score 22-12.

Lewis Downer now had to limp off with the final replacement, Ellis Taylor, on in his stead. Both sides had their eyes on bonus points and it was the visitors who claimed their try bonus point after a dash down the touchline ended with a touchdown in the corner. It was a close call but referee Isaac Fortnall decided there was no foot in touch and Park had their bonus point and minutes later were the winners by 27-12.

Brett Scott at lineout with Lettsy and Connor Photo Andy Mair

Wanderers debutant tighthead prop, Jack Brewer, and loosehead Luke Browning, played the full eighty minutes in the most testing of positions against seasoned opposition. Congratulations to them both.

Following this result and Cranbrook’s win at home against Dover, Wanderers now find themselves in bottom place in the league and will travel to Crowborough next Saturday for a 3pm kick off.

The Sussex side is enjoying a good season and are in fifth place in the league so points will be difficult to come by there.

The League season closes on the 6th of April with a home fixture against Ashford. The game will be preceded by a fundraising lunch for the SEND  youngsters and will provide an enjoyable start to the day. Please support this very worthwhile cause.