Pack Power The Key
CANTERBURY 25 WESTCOMBE PARK 19
by David Haigh
After falling behind three times Canterbury came up with a winning try six minutes from the end as they overcame cold rain and wind to take four points from this typically tight Kent derby. In the testing conditions the quality of the rugby was a tribute to both sides but it was the performance of the city club’s pack in the second half that gave them a crucial edge. Their domination of the set scrums at times put ‘Combe under huge pressure and although it did not produce the points it should have it was key to the territorial battle. Combe took an early lead in the game after Canterbury failed to find touch with a clearance kick and they made the most of the possession. Centre Tom Vickers dummied his way through a defence short on numbers and Nathan Wyman converted. Canterbury, battling into the wind, kept losing the slippery ball in contact but drew level after 21 minutes. A lineout drive and plenty of pick and go put skipper Jamie Stephens over between the post, leaving Frank Reynold an easy conversion. They soon found themselves behind again, conceding a penalty at the breakdown which gave ‘Combe the opportunity to drive Sam Fombo across for the try, Wyman again converting. In the final minute of the half a Reynolds penalty goal cut the deficit to four and after the break the city club soon started to fire the shots. Four minutes in, Stephens blasted over again from short range, Reynolds was on target and the lead recaptured. In the 20 minutes that followed it was Canterbury who were dominant as the visitors scrum imploded but some fine defence kept them pointless. How costly that might have been was apparent when Combe seized on a dropped ball, wing Kieran Thompson hacked upfield and only a brave effort from Will Waddington prevented a score. But the scrum five metres out went to Combe and Number Eight Nick Cook found a blind side gap to put his team two points in front again. However, Canterbury soon reapplied the pressure and a yellow card for former city player Kyan Braithwaite saw Reynolds’ penalty win back the narrowest of leads and that rampant pack then produced an impressive and important score. A huge driving maul which motored 2O metres ended with prop Cameron Macmillan making the touchdown. A relieved Head Coach, Matt Corker, praised his team for the way they kept coming from behind. “It was a tough win but that is what derby games and league rugby are all about” he said.
Canterbury; W.Waddington, G.Jones, F.Morgan (repl A.Orris), T.Best, A.Moss, F.,Reynolds, T. Williams, (rep B.Cooper), B.Young (repl C.Macmillan), N.Morris (repl E.O’Donoghue( D.Herriott, D.Irvine (repl S.Rogers), S.Kerry, J.Stephens, C.Murray, T.Oliver.