Relegation looks certain for Wanderers

Callum Doody breaks Photo Colin Whiteley

By Colin Whiteley

Crowborough RFC 44 – 17 Thanet Wanderers RUFC

There were seven changes to Wanderers starting XV with Danny Clement and Joe Carlier joining Luke Browning in the front row and Ed Plori also moved from the 2s to the first XV back row.

Tom Walton switched from Scrum Half to Outside Half with Callum Doody at scrum half. Second team Captain and winger, Tom Stevens, also stepped in with Cam Beck, back from nearly two years travelling, in the centre.

There was a start for Ellis Taylor on the wing and Henry Mirams was at full back. The other two Doody brothers, Regan and Leon were on the bench with a Colt, Finley Hickmott, who was hoping to make his debut as a back five forward.

There was however to be no gentle introduction to the first team ranks for Finley who found himself at outside centre where he gave a mature and competent display in the unfamiliar position after Lewis Downer had to withdraw with injury in the opening minutes of the game.

L-R Joe Carlier, Andy Letts and Ed Plori form an experienced defensive line

Wanderers had opened with a good attack and came away with some points when Andy Letts led a forwards drive and set good field position. A dropped ball in the home defence was well exploited and Callum Doody emerged from the pile of bodies to claim the try. Walton’s conversion attempt was wide but Thanet had a rare early lead at 5-0.

Two penalties to the Crows saw them testing Thanet’s resilient defence and with fourteen minutes played, some good handling led to a try that was well converted.  Thanet’s defence had hardly regrouped when the catcher of the restart set his sights for the Thanet line and out-sprinted defenders to touch down try number two that was not converted but the Crows were 12-5 ahead. Wanderers were playing some lively rugby with Brett Scott and Danny Clement prominent in the pack which was competing strongly. A goal line drop out from the Crows gave Wanderers a line-out and they were able to build a surging drive to the line for Dennis Davies to claim his debut try in first team colours.

Tom Walton made an excellent conversion and after twenty minutes Wanderers were level at 12 points each. The home side’s Captain and number eight now had to withdraw with injury but there was no let up in the hosts’ pressure and a good running try from their forwards, that went unconverted, made the score 17-12.

Two Thanet’s line outs were stolen by the host team and territory lost but Mirams’ clearance, under pressure, gave welcome relief. In first half added time, the Crows added two unconverted tries; the second from a show and go that was followed by a dash to the line from his own half by the Crows’ outside half to give them a 27-12 lead at the break.

A converted try after three second-half minutes further extended the home lead but Ellis Taylor, on Wanderers left wing, showed some nifty footwork as he dodged his way out of defence. Crowborough’s right winger was shown yellow for a high tackle and Andy Letts big tackle snuffed out a threatening Crowborough attack.  With an hour played the Crows added another unconverted try and minutes later Callum Doody was shown yellow.

A well worked try from a simple overlap movement brought the home side their eighth and final try but again there was no conversion Captain Sam Taylor continued to urge his side to earn a try bonus point and he caught the restart to mount an attack. A penalty put them within range and a fine forwards’ drive was crowned by a touchdown by the captain to make the score 44-17.

A few minutes remained and the Doody brothers were all united on the field again. However there was no further score and the Crows had five victories from the five encounters between the sides in the last two seasons. Congratulations to them.

Goal Line drop Out from Tom Walton

The Wanderers front row of Luke Browning, Danny Clement and tighthead Joe Carlier, who also reprised his pantomime villain role, ensured that Wanderers could honour this fixture and remain  competitive.

Congratulations to the selection committee who in the face of so many injuries and non availabilities, spent many hours to produce three sides on the day. With many on first team duty, it was little wonder that the depleted twos lost heavily but amazingly the threes won a close game.

Saturday, the 6th of April, marks the end of the league season when the first XV are at home to Ashford. Thanet are now five points adrift at the bottom of the league and will play their rugby in Counties 2 Kent next season.

The match will be preceded by a fundraising lunch in aid of the club’s SEND rugby initiative. Details are on the club’s Facebook and home page. This is such a worthwhile cause please do support.