CANTERBURY 48 EXMOUTH 38
In the end superior pace and quick thinking rescued Canterbury from a surprise reverse at the hands of the league’s bottom side. A hugely entertaining game of thirteen tries saw the city club score the two that mattered after they trailed Exmouth deep into the final quarter. Head Coach Andy Pratt had warned that, despite his side’s winning run, rugby can come back to bite you. For long periods it seemed not enough of his players had taken heed as the visitors sank their teeth in to inflict serious damage.
Canterbury made their escape thanks to a great individual score by scrum half Dan Smart, involving a 70 metre run, and a clever short lineout move which sent Cameron Townley over for the final try. To their credit, they kept cool heads on a challenging afternoon,
But if Guy Hilton’s try two minutes into the game suggested this was going to be a comfortable ride they were made to think again. Exmouth’s spirit and intensity rattled Canterbury into all kinds of basic errors. The Hilton score was quickly rubbed out by the first of teenage hooker Charlie Gibbings three tries and although the city side edged ahead, through a Smart try and Tom Best’s conversion and penalty goal, the visitors built an eleven point lead by half time.
Some of Canterbury’s defending and decision making will bring blushes to their cheeks when they watch the video, as they gifted a try to Exmouth centre Harvey Ridgeway while effective close quarter work by the visitors pack was rewarded with touch downs for prop Isaac Dalton and Gibbings.
The potency of the city backs worked its magic when the ball was moved crisply for Martyn Beaumont to race in at the start of the second half, but there was no let up in Exmouth’s intensity as they continued to match the home side try for try.
Lovely off-loading brought one for centre Martin Wathes before Sam Kenny’s long pass opened the way for Hilton’s pace and tricky running to cut the deficit to four points. Exmouth pulled away again as slack handling gave them field position for Gibbings hat trick-score and a real prospect of victory. But Canterbury gathered themselves to find those late, decisive points. The backs worked a lovely try for JJ Murray, Smart’s quick tap penalty and thrilling run – worth the entrance money alone -- snatched back the lead and Townley’s touchdown finished the job.
There was important goal kicking from the Best brothers, Tom adding three conversions and Ollie two. Exmouth’s Richard Cadywould converted four tries but at the death missed a couple of kickable penalties which would have earned his side a richly deserved second bonus point.
Canterbury: A.Moss, G.Hilton (repl J.Jones), JJ Murray, W.Farris, M.Beaumont, T.Best (repl O.Best), D.Smart, J.Green (repl A.Cooper), S.Rogers, S.Kenny, G.Edwards (repl (C.Townley), T.Burns, T.Edwards, H.McCormick-Huston, M.Cantwell (repl L.Woodbridge)
|W||22 Apr||Bury St. Edmunds||14-13|
|L||25 Feb||Bishop's Stortford||30-46|
|W||11 Feb||London Irish WG||21-17|
|L||4 Feb||Taunton Titans||5-30|
|D||21 Jan||Bishop's Stortford||0-0|
|L||17 Dec||Old Elthamians||14-18|
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