|21st Oct 2017||3:00 pm||National League 2 South||2017/18|
Canterbury, the in-form side in National 2 South, came within seconds of causing an upset at the home of the unbeaten league leaders in this clash of the day game. With enforced changes to the side that beat Redruth this was not the only the setback that was to unfurl in Head Coach Andy Pratt’s preparations to continue his team’s six week unbeaten run. With Hurricane Brian hitting the West Country it also hit the City side with damage to their coach resulting in a replacement bus completing the journey and a delay to kick off by forty minutes.
It was no surprise, then, that the hosts started the game livelier and looking likely to get and early score. But with stout defensive work and Royce Cadman stealing multiple Taunton lineouts it wasn’t until a quarter of the game had elapsed that Taunton turned the pressure into points, spinning the ball wide from a scrum for winger Freddie Fraser to go over in the corner. Their usually reliable kicker, full back Gary Kingdom, was unable to add the extras. They went further ahead after 33 minutes, centre Tom Popham cutting an angle in midfield to dance over and Kingdom adding the simple goal. Canterbury regrouped and turned the tide just before half time when good hands by Aiden Moss and Guy Hilton inspired a try for Dan Smart, converted by Charlie Kingsman.
Two minutes after the break it got even better as the city side stole into the lead, despite now playing into a fierce wind. They put together several clinical phases before slick handling by flanker Jake Rigby released wing Harry Sayers for the try and Kingsman topped it up with his second conversion. With more possession and excellent defence Andy Pratt’s side were now looking the better of the teams but were unfortunate to be reduced to 14 men when Jimmy Green was sin binned for an alleged high tackle. Taunton made them pay with a quick tap penalty and try by flanker Vatu Vakalutukali, converted by Kingdom who minutes later failed with a penalty shot which could have sealed the result.
The game was still Canterbury’s for the taking and they were looking the stronger outfit going into the final stages. However, they could not make the most of a yellow card handed to Taunton’s Aaron Struminski and the home defence somehow held out. In the last five minutes the city men were a constant threat and came close to the winning score but had to be content with a losing bonus point which kept them in the league table’s top four.
Canterbury: A.Moss (repl O.Best), B.Howard, JJ Murray, C.Kingsman, H.Sayers, O.Best (repl G. Hilton), D.Smart (repl K.Braithwaite), J.Green (repl S.Cark), J.Otto (repl E.Deacon), S.Kenny, R.Cadman, M.Corker, J.Rigby, S. Clark (repl A.Coooper), M.Cantwell
by Chris Fullbrook