Canterbury have a less than eviable record at Clifton and this flat performance saw them add to their list of failures. They outscored the Bristol club by three tries to two but were booted out of it by fly half Brad Barnes five penalty goals.
It was a day when intensity and accuracy were missing and with the Clifton pack controlling large chunks of the action the city side were rarely allowed to find any sustained momentum.
Most of the damage was done in an error strewn second half which allowed Barnes to build on his side’s one point half time lead. From the kick-off Canterbury spilled the ball under no immediate pressure, conceded a penalty at the scrum and set the pattern of defeat.
It was a disappointment because up that point, after falling behind to a couple of Barnes goals, they had scored two inventive tries and were well in the contest.
The first was set up from a solid catch and drive before scrum half Kyan Braithwaite delivered an inch perfect kick behind the defence for wing Harry Sayers to touch down.
Clifton neutralised that when flanker Hamish Renwick exploited slack defence with a decisive break which full back Ian Clark finished off with a try but two minutes before the half ended the city side responded. Charlie Kingsman’s eye for space did the initial damage as he collected his own chipped kick and Ollie Best carried on the good work before centre Alex Miller marked his first team debut with the try. Neither score, both wide out, was converted, but the match was still wide open.
Sadly for Canterbury the opportunity vanished as their own shortcomings and Clifton’s energy allowed the home side to dominate most of the territory and possession until the final ten minutes. Their pressure earned catch a drive try from Renwick and that, plus Barnes accuracy from the tee, pushed them relentlessly ahead, His last penalty may have been a harsh call after Canterbury had counter rucked effectively, but in a late surge they revived hopes of salvaging something. The city side started to find attacking positions and a catch and drive try from Jamie Stephens brought them in sight of a bonus point. In the final minute it was there for the taking from a kickable penalty. It missed the mark which neatly summed up Canterbury’s unproductive day.
Canterbury: C.Kingsman, B.Howard, A.Miller (repl F.Morgan), T.Best, H.Sayers, O.Best (repl D.Smart), K.Braithwaite, J.Green (repl A.Cooper), J.Otto (repl T.Rogers), A.Cooper (repl S.Kenny),R.Cadman, L.Whetton (repl A.Woodward), M.Corker, S.Clark, J.Stephens