CANTERBURY 19 CINDERFORD 17
It is tempting to say that this first league win of the season was an early Christmas present for Canterbury but that would hardly do them justice. There was nothing gift wrapped about a victory which, after thirteen weeks of trying, was built on hard work, discipline and a new attitude.
Sam Sterling’s late try and their ability to close out the game nervelessly in the last five minutes saw the city side end all those hours of frustration
Cinderford’s Director of Rugby Paul Morris was quick to praise them and said Canterbury deserved their success although his team will have been disappointed to take only a losing bus point after going ahead for the first time in the 65th minute.
That put the city side’s reputation for second half implosions under scrutiny but this time they found the confidence and strength to bite back.
Encouraging foundations were laid in the first half where they absorbed early pressure and went on to take a twelve point lead. With a pack standing up firmly against a solid West Country eight they started to force penalties and Will Scholes scored from a lineout drive. Life got even better when skipper Ricky Mackintosh pounced on a Cinderford handling error, bounced one tackler into the turf and set off for a try which Tom Best converted.
They were not perfect but there was plenty to like about Canterbury until they were undermined by defensive weaknesses. The visitors opened a blindside gap for wing Sam Smith’s try and the same fault on the opposite flank allowed them to draw level. This time Ed Bogue broke free before Smith grabbed his second touch down and Harry Tovey converted.
When Canterbury failed to come away with points from early second half pressure doubts may have surfaced but they continued to edge the forward battle, backed up by a confident half back pairing and a sound the kicking game. Defences, as ever in this league, were tight and in last quarter the game swung on two yellow cards. Cinderford’s Harry Hole got the first but the city side could not take advantage and then lost Sam Sterling to the sin bin. Hole‘s return signalled a penalty and a catch and drive try for Joe Mullis which took his side into the lead. It demanded a positive response and this newly motivated Canterbury discovered it. They dug out some attacking territory, drove and mauled powerfully and Sterling, with his first touch after the sin binning, peeled off to score behind the posts. Best’s simple conversion gave his team plenty to celebrate ahead of the festive season.
Canterbury: W.Waddington, R.Mackintosh, S.Sterling, T.Best, C.Grimes (repl A.Meads), C.Kingsman, K.Braithwaite (repl D.Smart), J.Dever, G.Syminton (repl T.King), A.Wake-Smith (repl B.Young), R.Cadman, A.Thompson, W.Scholes, J.Rouse, T.Oliver (repl J.Stephens)