OFF TO A FLYER
NORTH WALSHAM 22 CANTERBURY 38
by David Haigh
A flying start to the new season for Canterbury with a six try performance that earned them a maximum five league points. A burst of 26 points in the first 20 minutes of the second half swung the game decisively their way and despite a late surge from newly promoted North Walsham they never looked in danger of being caught. It was an eye-catching transformation for a city side who were behind at the break and failed to shake the long journey to Norfolk out of leaden legs and minds. They were also faced with a home side keen to make an impression in front of a record crowd and who exploited weak tackling to take a seventh minute lead with a try for prop Frank Scott, converted by sharp fly half Matt Hodgson. Tom Best pulled one back after Canterbury forced a five metre scrum but they were dull and lacking any go forward. Hodgson’s penalty pushed Walsham into a deserved five point lead by half time. After forty minutes of flat and dispiriting rugby Canterbury’s change of mood caught everyone by surprise, not least the home side’s defence. It took only one minute of the second half for Aiden Moss to open a gap and Best to grab his second try. Frank Reynolds converted and Canterbury were on the march. The ball carriers were suddenly eating up vital yards, everyone was on the front foot and when a catch and drive opportunity came Nathan Morris finished off. The back division, now enjoying quicker service, joined in the rampage and came up with tries for Charlie Kingsman and Ben Cooper, and with conversions by Reynolds and Best Canterbury coasted into a 31-10 lead. For Walsham the last quarter was a catch-up situation as they searched for a losing bonus point. They fought hard but found it beyond them despite a touch down by Will Hodgson, converted by brother Matt, and a last gasp score from Ethan Sikorski. Those tries were sandwiched by Canterbury’s sixth when a fumbled kick set up the chance for Guy Hilton to stroll over and Best to put the seal on a day that, in the end, turned out very well.
Canterbury: C.Kingsman, G. Hilton, W.Waddington, T.Best, F.Morgan, F.Reynolds, B.Cooper, E.Lusher, N.Morris, D.Herriott, D.Irvine, J.De Vries, A.Evans, H.Furneaux, J.Stephens. Replacements: A.Cooper, B.Young, C.Murray, A.Moss, W.Calder