Frank Pulls The Strings
GUERNSEY 10 CANTERBURY 34
by Andy Rogers
It’s often said there is no such thing as a free lunch and so it turned out on this trip to Guernsey which is always a massive challenge, made harder still by the wind and rain battering the island on Saturday. Facing the worst of the conditions in the first period Canterbury played controlled rugby against bullish opposition with the back row and influential No 8 Tyler Oliver always in the thick of things. So it was against the run of play when after 20 minutes Canterbury were penalised for offside at the breakdown and from the resulting line out Guernsey second row Lewis Hillier was driven over.
That early momentum seemed to be drifting away further when Cameron Murray was singled out for ten minutes in the sin bin after some mild argy bargy with the Guernsey forwards. However, these setbacks appeared to galvanize a Canterbury side who continued to play the conditions with control, astute kicking and no little skill.
On thirty minutes and down to 14 players they drew level. It was the unlikely figure of fly half Frank Reynolds who emerged from the bottom of a driving maul to claim the touch down. When he converted his own score it was the start of a virtuoso performance from the Number Ten who went on to net two tries, two penalties and four conversions for a personal haul of 24 points. Reynolds then added a penalty goal before half time leaving Canterbury with a slender five point lead but still with a serious second half job to do.
With Reynolds pulling the strings it turned out to be a lead they would not surrender, but any suggestion that this was a one man performance would be way off the mark.
With fifteen second half minutes played prop Cam Macmillan drove over for the side’s second try and five minutes later lock Dave Irvine was rewarded for an afternoons hard graft by adding another to take the score to 27-5
Guernsey were not finished though. Spurred on by a noisy crowd they continued to take the game to the visitors and with 10 minutes remaining their tricky fly half Owen Thomas broke the cover to put centre Ciaran McGann over for a try which went unconverted.
It proved to be much too little too late for the home side leaving the final word to man of the match Reynolds. Playing with confidence, Canterbury went looking for a bonus point try. Wingers Alfie Orris and Garry Jones both went close after some lovely interplay with Will Waddington before forward pressure saw replacement scrum half Ben Cooper gather a loose ball to set up Reynolds who dummied and outpaced the cover to race under the posts.
A fitting end to a fine individual performance but, more importantly, an impressive display from a Canterbury squad who played the difficult conditions with a level of skill and control which augurs well for the testing run of league games to come.
Canterbury: W.Waddington, G.Jones, F.Morgan, T.Best, A.Orris, F.Reynolds, T.Williams, C.Macmillan, N.Morris, W.McColl, D.Irvine, S.Kerry, J.Stephens, C.Murray, T.Oliver. Replacements: E.O.Donoghue, E,Lusher, B.Cooper, A.Moss, S.Rogers