CANTERBURY 14 RAMS 31
In show business they say that a poor rehearsal leads to a great opening night and Canterbury, always with one eye on next Saturday’s National 2 promotion play-off, will want to believe in that. It was a disappointment to lose their unbeaten home record to a champion Rams side but in truth there was little else riding on this last game of the league programme.
That was reflected in Head Coach Andy Pratt’s squad where key players were rested and made ready for the clash with Chester. If the city club do win promotion to National One the Rams will be waiting for them again and here they showed the qualities which have taken them to the top this season. Canterbury were competitive and on level terms until the 58th minute but the battering they suffered at the set scrums took its toll and Rams added a couple more tries and a last minute penalty goal to end as bonus point winners.
The visitors grabbed an early lead when full back Joe Duffelen weaved cleverly past three defenders and Alex Seers converted. There was a shape and organisation about their play which eluded Canterbury but they defended resolutely and going into the second quarter dew level. Prop Aaron Cooper found space and Ricky Mackintosh was there to complete the score. Harvey Young converted but Rams regained the initiative before the break and moved back into the lead. The backs made a try for Ellis Jones, helped by a missed tackle, Seers converted and the city side were left to ponder why they had not more use of the slope. They came under intense pressure at the start of the second half but resisted bravely before producing a stunning equaliser from deep in their own territory . Dan Smart released the excellent Mackintosh on the blind side of a scrum, the wing brushed off defenders and scored after some great interplay with his scrum half. Young converted to bring his side fresh hope that was never to be realised.
Rams quickly got a foothold, opted for an attacking lineout in preference to their scrummaging superiority and Craig Nightingale made the catch and drive touchdown. The try which finally took the game away from the city side was a soft one. Tom Humberstone picked off Young’s telegraphed pass and was given a clear run to the line. Seers converted both scores and added another three points with the last kick of a contest high on entertainment but, for Canterbury, a footnote to the greater possibilities ahead.
Canterbury: C.Grimes (repl A.Moss), R.Mackintosh, B.Neville, S.Sterling, J.J.Murray, H.Young K.Braithwaite (repl D.Smart), A.Cooper (repl E.Lusher), T.King (repl S.Rogers), A.Wake-Smith (repl A.Cooper), L.Whetton, M.Corker, S.Roche, S.Stapleton (repl J.Stephens), T.Oliver