Pilgrims Pass First Test
Canterbury Pilgrims 30 Beccehamians 23
by John Mitchell
Having won promotion into Counties 1, this was always going to be a challenge against the side who were among the front runners last season but Pilgrims made a great start. A team try, perhaps the best they will score all season, gave them a one minute lead. After a move that involved just about everyone Seb Clark went over out wide left, but debutant Tom McMann failed to convert. Within a minute McMann had a kick charged down and suddenly the home side were 5-7 down. The visitors then took control and with a heavier pack looked like they could well run away with it. A converted push over try ensued and Becs were 5-12 up. A solo run by the in-form Max Campbell closed the gap with a try but McMann could not convert. With 26 minutes gone the visitors were making good runs, running good lines and had good possession. Pilgrims were not in the game, and another penalty was slotted to make it 10-15. Then the Pilgrims started to take control, literally camped in the Becs twenty-two, but they could not score. Even with Alex Evans making his presence felt, he was voted supporters best forward. It must be said that every player in the pack had an outstanding game individually but they kept trying to bulldoze their way through and the attack was too narrow. Time and again the away side stopped them from scoring. Canterbury then got a penalty within kicking distance but McMann opted for a kick and line-out. From the throw, the Pilgrims scored a push over try with Stanley Bull carrying over; he was having an outstanding game for someone who was playing colts rugby only last season. McMann got his scoring boots on to convert and the home side went in at half-time 17-15 up. Tom was now in charge, and his second half performance won him the supporters backs man of the match. From a line-out, a sliding maul to the left saw Bull pass out to Cooper, to Dayes to Campbell to Geddes who powered over to score out wide and McMann duly slotted – 24-15. Becs immediately scored from a penalty but McMann replied for Pilgrims to make it 27-18. Twenty minutes gone and the visitors used their power and scored another push over try, but failed to conver. McMann from 37 yards then kicked a great penalty to make it 30-23. A miss a few minutes later gave the home side a very squeaky last ten! A match winning tackle by Ollie McGann, which saw him taken off injured, meant that the home side had to endure five minutes of real pressure. This was duly done and it will be interesting to see how this new side progresses.
Pilgrims: G.Lister, M.Campbell, M.Dayes, S.Trew-Neville, A.Geddes, T.McMann, B.Cooper, C.Macmillan, S.Bull, D.Huntley, J.De Vries, T.Mackenzie J.Dengate, S.Clark, A.Evans. Replacements: H.Andrews, O.McGann, F Holland-Oliver