After a near perfect first half which saw them open a 28 point lead, Canterbury had to dig deep against a resurgent Juddians before they claimed their first league win of the season in this Kent derby. So effective was TJs response that they came within a converted try of levelling the scores and it was only in the final minute of the game that Kieran Thompson’s touchdown settled matters for the city side.
How Canterbury plunged from the sublime to the submissive only they will know. In a blistering first forty minutes their pack gave them almost total control, the tactical plan was spot on and they were rewarded with five tries, one of them a penalty. The onslaught began in the fourth minute with a catch and drive score from prop Aaron Cooper, converted by Ollie Best, and when the chances came Canterbury were clinical. Max Cantwell’s line break led to a second try, involving a strong finish from wing Harry Sayers, and although TJs managed a penalty goal from Liam Prescott they could not halt the flow.
The city side’s domination of scrum and lineout and their physical and intelligent pick and drive game paid huge dividends. An astute grubber kick ended in a try for full back Charlie Kingsman, converted by Best, and the bonus point score soon followed as forward pressure forced a penalty try. Scrum Half Dan Smart pushed them through the 30 point mark before a shell shocked TJs retreated to the half time changing room.
But they are a side who have not been defeated for almost a year and they came out so refreshed for the second half they stood the game on its head,
Canterbury, who fell away badly the previous week, were once again guilty of losing focus, making poor decisions and handing over possession too easily. TJ’s exploited the weaknesses with tries from Jon McMahon, Will Colderick and Hugo Watson. The reliable Prescott converted all three and a major upset was clearly on the cards.
It was those excellent forwards who came to Canterbury’s rescue. In a late surge they mangled a TJs scrum, picked and drove to suck in defenders and made the space for Thompson’s’s face saving dive over the line.
Canterbury: C.Kingsman (repl G.Hilton), K.Thompson, JJ Murrray (repl F.Morgan), T.Best, H.Sayers, O.Best, D.Smart, J.Green (repl A.Cooper), T.Rogers, A.Cooper (repl S.Kenny), R.Cadman (repl L.Woodbridge), M.Corker, M.Cantwell, S.Rogers, G.Micans.