DINGS CRUSADERS 23 CANTERBURY 20
Skipper Steve Plummer snatched victory for Crusaders with the last kick of the match. As his long range penalty goal sailed between the posts the city side were left to reflect on a stuttering performance that did no justice to their lofty position in National 2 South. It was a defeat that pushed them down to third place but could have been avoided had they settled for the draw that a late, converted try offered. Instead they attempted to open up the game and Plummer extracted a heavy price for that misplaced ambition
When Jonathan Murray scored in the 74th minute it was one the few times the city’s dangerous backs escaped the clutches of a well organised Dings defence, but it was the way the home pack dictated terms that created the real pressure and uncertainty.
They were physical and organised, better at the breakdown and denied Canterbury the quick ball on which they thrive.
The city side were marginally ahead at the half way mark. After failing to make the most of early breaks from Aiden Moss they conceded the first try to centre Marcus Brooker, who took advantage of missed tackles. However, two penalty goals from Ollie Best got Canterbury on the front foot. They continued to press and after Dings wingman Josh Tovey was sin binned Freddie Edwards scored from a close quarter drive and Best nudged the lead to eight points.
Unwise words to the referee gave Crusaders the opportunity to cut that back before the break as the penalty put them in attacking territory and their pack rumbled effectively to set up Brooker’s second touchdown. Faced by a cold wind and a lack of penetration the city side became anxious and careless. Dings pinned them down for long periods of the second half and the frustration showed as the city side were guilty of poor offloads and a lack of accuracy. A catch and drive try from hooker Joe Hawkesby and a conversion and penalty goal by Plummer gave Crusaders the whip hand until that late reply. Canterbury at last generated the quick ball they craved to send Murray through a gap and Best’s conversion handed them a lifeline. It slipped through their fingers in the last seconds when they failed to release in the tackle.
Canterbury: A.Moss (repl H.Young). R.Mackintosh, S.Sterling, J.Murray, C.Grimes, O.Best, K.Braithwaite (repl D.Smart), A.Cooper, T.King A.Wake-Smith (repl J.Geen), R.Cadman M.Corker, F.Edwards (repl S.Rogers, S.Stapleton, J.Stephens