CANTERBURY 21 WORTHING RAIDERS 10
Canterbury Head Coach Andy Pratt reckons that wet weather doesn’t suit his team’s style of play. He may have to reconsider when, for the second home game in succession, they adapted well enough to beat both rain and the opposition.
In the process the city side scored three tries, denied Worthing the consolation of a losing bonus point with some pugnacious defending and kept themselves among the leading group in National 2 South.
It was a day when conditions made handling a gamble and turned the focus squarely on the performance of the packs. Canterbury’s forwards made their own statement by shunting Raiders off the first two scrums and they went on to edge most of the important battles.
Early pressure, however, brought no reward and Worthing stole ahead through a Matt McLean penalty goal after quarter of an hour.
That lead lasted only four minutes as Canterbury seized on a Raiders error, forced a quickly taken penalty and Number Eight Jamie Stephens burrowed over by the posts to leave Harvey Young a routine conversion.
They went hunting for more, ignored an easy three points from a penalty when ambition got the better of them but the second try was worth the fifteen minute wait.
Worthing cleared their lines but failed to find touch, Ricky Mackintosh collected, the ball was moved left where Aiden Moss injected pace into the attack and JJ Murray burst clear. Dan Smart was on his inside shoulder to take the scoring pass for a try that defied the soggy skies.
Defiance of a different kind was needed to keep Worthing at bay before half time but with Young’s second conversion an eleven point lead was a good return as the weather worsened.
The danger time for Canterbury came as the game went into its last quarter. A yellow card for prop Aaron Cooper gave Raiders the foothold they needed from the penalty and close quarter driving ended with skipper Liam Perkins forcing his way over. McLean reduced the deficit to a slender four points with the conversion.
But the visitors undid the good work as they dropped the re-start kick and invited Canterbury into a scoring position. Smart’s clever kick saw Sam Sterling win the footrace to claim the try, topped up by Young’s third conversion.
There were further scoring opportunities for both sides, forward passes twice thwarting Raiders and, for the city club, an obstruction halting a searing break by Mackintosh.
Late in the day the visitors hammered at the door as they went in search of a losing bonus point but, despite a sin binning for Sean Stapleton, Canterbury kept it firmly closed.
Canterbury: A.Moss. R.Mackintosh (repl C.Grimes), S.Goatley, S.Sterling, J.J.Murray, H.Young, D.Smart, A.Cooper (repl J. Green), T.King, S.Kenny (repl A.Cooper), R.Cadman, M.Corker, L.Whetton (repl T.Oliver), S.Stapleton, J.Stephens