HINCKEY 28 CANTERBURY 31
Despite travelling with a host of established players missing, this young Canterbury side produced a hugely encouraging performance in this pre-season friendly against an experienced Hinckley.
It will give Head coach Andy Pratt more than one selection headache ahead of Saturday’s first league game next week.
The match was barely six minutes old when new Number Eight Tyler Oliver picked a lovely line to break the Hinckley defense and Dan Smart scored the first try. Then came a brace of tries for his back row partner Jamie Stephens to catapult Canterbury into a 21 points lead. With the city side playing some delightful fifteen man rugby, and half backs Dan Smart and Sam Evans expertly pulling the strings, it was Canterbury who looked by far the more accomplished team. Perhaps it was ease with which they slipped through the gears that brought a level of complacency. Some loose kicking, compounded by missed tackles, allowed a Hinckley back into the game. They hit back hard with three tries – one a penalty try for a high tackle which bought a yellow card for outstanding scrum half Smart – and at half time the sides were level at 21-21.
The second half was a little more subdued but still produced some entertaining open play. With twelve minutes gone another ill-judged kick gifted Hinckley the lead for the first time, running the ball back for a try from deep in their own half. But this was as good as it got for the home side. Stiff words from the touchline saw Canterbury re-establish their authority. Getting back to basics, keeping the ball in hand and with Sam Sterling expertly steering his young three quarters line, centre colleague Frankie Morgan was driven over after a period of sustained forward pressure. Then as Canterbury rang the changes from the bench hooker Jarvis Otto was on hand to make the rouchdown which won back a lead they never looked like losing. Led by stand-in skipper Sean Stapleton they dominated the final stages to crown a good performance