CANTERBURY 47 TONBRIDGE JUDDIANS 35
These Kent rivals fought each other for the National Division 2 South promotion play-off spot last season. Canterbury edged that battle and in this first pre-season friendly they ended narrowly in front again after running in seven tries.
Juddians got five of their own, all converted by Will Robinson, and twice held the lead in a game split into three periods. The objective of these warm-up encounters, however, is for squads to get a feel for competitive rugby after the summer break, test fitness and integrate new players with the result being largely academic. On that score both clubs will have come away with plus marks and identified areas which need more work. TJs took the lead with an early try but the city side’s inventiveness and off-loading skills brought scores for Ricky Mackintosh, Charlie Grimes and Kyan Braithwaite. The visitors pulled one back before the end of the first session then quickly recaptured the lead after the restart. It was the last time they were in front as Canterbury took a firm grip and built a 19-point lead through touchdowns from Sean Stapleton, Elliot White and Dan Smart.
The final 27 minutes saw Juddians stage a comeback which produced two tries and cut the city side’s lead to five points. A final blast from Number Eight Tyler Oliver settled matters as his try left Alex Meads a simple conversion to add to the five shared by newcomer Max Craven and Harvey Young. Craven was one of five new faces in the city squad with locks Will Scholes, Rob Neesom and Matas Jurevicius all making strong contributions,