Last gasp try for Wanderers seals victory in final Kent League One Fixture

Dennis Davies and Luke Browning prepare to tackle

By Colin Whiteley

Thanet Wanderers RUFC 28 – 22 Ashford RFC

For Wanderers, Gully Goodall returned at tighthead and Warren Riddell-Bloomfield at number six in the pack. Tom Walton was a late withdrawal with illness: Callum Doody was a very capable replacement at scrum half. He joined Charlie Panteli in the half back partnership and Adam Harrison and Max Rogers made up the centre pairing with Louis Marshall restored to the left wing berth.

Ashford won the reverse fixture, which was the opening league game of the season, by 28-10 and  Wanderers were aiming to even things up in their final league match in Counties One Kent for a while.

Thanet kicked off down the slope but into a strong breeze and opening exchanges were scrappy. A penalty took Wanderers into the opposition half but a dropped pass was quickly exploited by the opposition who crossed for a try, that was converted, to open up a 7-0 lead after ten minutes. A strong break down the blindside by Louis Marshall ended with a penalty for holding on.

Callum Doody sends the threequarters away

The wind was playing tricks with a Thanet pass sailing direct into touch but the resulting Ashford line-out was blown well off line. Wanderers were penalised for obstruction and again Ashford were quick to attack and some quick handling saw them cross for their second try to lead 12-0. Wanderers reacted well and a determined, steadily built attack was rewarded with a try for Max Rogers. There was no conversion from wide left but Thanet were on the board at 12-5. Ashford hit back three minutes later with a well-struck penalty from halfway, to lead 15-5. Charlie Panteli’s reverse pass changed the direction of play and ended with Wanderers camped near the visitors’ line.

An injury to a defender delayed the attack but another penalty gave captain Sam Taylor the opportunity to go in low to touch down his ninth try of the league season. A brilliantly judged conversion from Panteli meant Wanderers trailed by just three points. Minutes later Panteli converted a penalty opportunity with a fine kick from around 35 metres after dissenters in the visiting pack were marched back ten metres by no nonsense referee Katy Gent. Thanet’s full back, Henry Mirams, made a great catch of a swirling high ball and then threatened with a sharp break.

The final attack of the half from Wanderers looked certain to end in a score but some desperate defence kept the visitors’ line secure until Thanet conceded a penalty that closed the half with the scores level at 15-15.

At half-time Wanderers’ Coaches will have been happy with the team’s comeback after falling two tries behind. The pack was holding its own in a serious contest with the bigger Ashford eight and the backs looked sharp after settling to their task.

Charlie Panteli kicks for goal

Touch was not found from an early penalty to Wanderers but Lewis Downer was quick to follow up and contain the counter attack.  Ten minutes into the half, Ashford pressure concluded with a try close to the posts and the conversion opened up a seven point lead. Wanderers had turned down opportunities to kick for goal previously but ten minutes later Panteli took three points to narrow the gap at 18-22. His trusty boot then took Wanderers to within a point ten minutes later at 21-22.

The gusting wind cost Wanderers an attacking opportunity when it was at its most capricious at an attacking line-out, but the momentum was with the Wanderers as the final whistle grew nearer.  Centres, Harrison and Rogers, took Wanderers close after an electric break but a knock on was signalled with Ashford to put in to the scrum. A great final scrum from the Thanet pack took the scrum against the head and the ball flew along the line to Lewis Downer on the right wing who finished well. Another fine conversion from Panteli followed, the final whistle sounded and Wanderers had won a thriller by 28-22.

Andy Letts carries with Brett Scott in support

Head Coach, Elliot Blackmore, was delighted with his side’s performance in the match. He particularly praised the front row of Luke Browning, Danny Clement and Gully Goodall who all played the whole of the match in a typically tough confrontation.  All fifteen of the side had made a real contribution and there was no change to the team throughout the game.

In the back row Brett Scott and Captain Sam Taylor celebrated their ever present status in all of the season’s 22 matches with back row partner Warren missing just two games. Lock forward Andy Letts has veteran status but it’s hard to equate that with the fine performances he has produced in all but one of the team’s league games this year.  In the backs, Henry Mirams and Tom Walton have both appeared in 17 of the 22 matches played.

Next Saturday the 13th April, Wanderers will travel to Cranbrook for their first match in this year’s Papa John’s Cup. Kick off is at 2.30pm. Please support if you can. It was a great day out last year at the StoneX stadium for the regional finals.

1 Comment

  1. A well deserved win – well done!
    Wanderers were desperately unlocking to fall behind early on and to me – it looked like it was going to be one of those days where every small error was going to be heavily punished.
    TWRFC can look forward to next season with some optimism with a set of backs whose creativity ended up paying off in this match.
    Thank you too – to the club for hosting a wonderful lunch in honour of the SEND Section on Saturday. It was great to be able to celebrate the wonderful work carried out by Mario and Vicky.

Comments are closed.