Pilgrims Tame The Lions
DEAL & BETTESHANGER LIONS 21 CANTERBURY PILGRMS 32
by John Mitchell
It all started with the minibus stuck in a field! But that’s a story for another day, sorry.
This East Kent derby game started well for Pilgrims, wing Garry Jones being put away for a great try in the first five minutes, converted by Tom McMann, but in wet and windy conditions it was not easy for the kickers. Former Canterbury fly half Ollie Best ,for Lions, and McMann were both off target before Tom found his range with a penalty and made it 10-0. That didn’t last long as Pilgrims infringements at breakdown and scrum were punished with two Best penalty goals. Play, inevitably, was scrappy in the conditions and Canterbury were allowing the home side to dictate matters. But when opportunity came Pilgrims struck. A penalty 20 metres out saw Luke Webber tap and go and the seas just parted for him as he ran through to the posts for a try converted by McMann. Still, Canterbury were giving silly penalties away, again for coming in from the side, and Best duly obliged to make it 9-17 at half-time. Yellow cards played a part after the break. The Lions Number 5 was the first to go and more pressure from Canterbury saw McMann make it 9-20 from yet another penalty. When Will Hunt was sin binned for chat the Lions opted for a scrum, broke away with the help of two missed tackles and scored between the posts. Best converted. With only four points in it was it going to be squeaky bum time for the Pilgrims? However, it was now the side showed its resilience. From open play Sonny Trew-Neville ran an absolutely superb line and offloaded for Tom Halliday to score and McMann converted. Surely they would go on to win! Still the home side caused problems, but Pilgrims held out and then landed a decisive blow with a close range try by prop Will McColl which earned the bonus point. The hosts are not the sort of team to give up, pressed to the end and had the last word with an unconverted try. The final whistle could not come soon enough for Canterbury in this hard fought victory which takes their record to six wins from six, all with a bonus point, and retains their leadership of Counties 1 Kent.
Pilgrims next meet local rivals Dover at home on November 4th, kick-off 2pm. Both these sides were promoted last season, so it promises to be a great game, regardless of current league position or form.