This Canterbury side may have its flaws but their courage was never in question as gritty defence earned them a bonus point victory which lifted them to fifth spot in National 2 South. In a nerve shredding finale the Irish forwards were held up over the line to seal a win which could easily have slipped from the city club’s grasp. What did Canterbury endless damage was their serious lack of discipline as they conceded needless penalties, handed possession to the Irish,and picked up two yellow cards. The Geese punished those sin binnings, one in each half, with two of their three tries.
When it came to making the most of limited opportunities, however, it was a different story. After leading at the break Canterbury failed to impose themselves in the second half and were trailing by eight points as the game went into its final ten minutes. Then they broke from deep as JJ Murray skewered the Irish defence and won an attacking lineout. A clinical driving maul was pulled down illegally and there was no hesitation from the referee in awarding a penalty try. That sparked momentum as the city side launched more attacks and only a last ditch tackle forced wing Barney Howard into touch.
The Irish had the lineout but it was an area where they were under pressure all afternoon from Canterbury’s skilled operators and now it cost them the game. They flapped at their own throw, the ball ran loose and Seb Clark pounced for the bonus point try.
The penalty count led to Canterbury falling behind in the early stages of the match as Irish set up a catch and drive, completed by a try for Number Eight Archie Mackay
The city club countered with a piercing run from Harry Sayers, always a threat when in possession, and a try for Dan Smart converted by Ollie Best. It was Best, however, who got the first yellow card and Irish scrum half Tom Barker made the break and then rewarded heavy pressure with a try which Alex Seers converted. Canterbury countered a minute from half time with a catch and drive try from prop Jim Green and Best’s conversion edged them into a two point lead.
With Irish enjoying possession for long periods of the second half they were able to steal ahead through a Seers penalty goal and, after Jamie Stephens went to the sin bin, a try from Hooker Brad Clements. Then came that late Canterbury flourish, followed by ten minutes of heroics in a cracking defensive effort.
Canterbury: O.Best, B.Howard, R.Mackintosh (repl JJ Murray), T.Best, H.Sayers, C.Kingsman, D.Smart ( repl K.Braithwaite), J.Green (repl C.Townley), T.Rogers (repl E.Deacon), S.Kenny. L.Whetton (repl J.Rigby), M.Corker, J.Stephens, S.Clark, M.Cantwell