First game of a new season and I don’t think we had ever seen that much rain in any of our previous matches.
We were away at Cranbrook, which felt like it was in the middle of nowhere but is actually a lovely club and the hosts were very welcoming. We travelled with a squad of 26 players that included Sam Stevenson, Tom O’Callaghan, Isaac Divine and Hugo Evans all making their official debuts for the club.
The rain was pouring hard and this meant spectators had little cover, but spirits were high and the boys were excited to get out on the pitch playing rugby. With the new RFU half game rule now in place, it gave us another ball to juggle.
Head Coach Craig Smith took on the refereeing duties for the game which meant that assistant coach Matt Hickmott took the reins for the team. Thanet took to the pitch and Wanderers were immediately on the front foot.
Very early in the game good team play through Barnaby Price, jack Brewer, and Tom O’Callaghan released Henry Carruthers for Thanet’s first try of the match after only three minutes, quickly followed up by Theo Rowes’ conversion. The team were moving the ball nicely with Linus Honey, Gil Smith and Hugo Evans all getting a lot of early touches. In the 6th minute, further great play from Sam Stevenson, Toby Hunt, and Finley Hickmott ended with Zack Ralph getting Wanderers second try which Rowe again converted.
The Thanet team were very dominate and as the clock hit 10 minutes into the game, Max Anderson and Fred O’Halloran, who were dominating in the pack, created space for Isaac Divine to run in Wanderers third score, Rowe converted again but this time from wide out on the touchline, a great kick. Then in the 15th minute, Stevenson was freed by Carruthers and O’Callaghan and showed great desire enabling him to get his debut try, Rowe again Converted.
The coaches decided to make changes for the remaining 15 minutes of the half and bought on 11 new Players which could have been disruptive to the team, but actually worked seamlessly. Straight away, Oscar Andrews and Oscar Bradley saw a lot of the ball.
Excellent work by Harry Kirkpatrick, Henry Mason, and Owen Read led to Hunt breaking free and running in a try from a long way out. Ollie Jordan-Smith took on the conversion duties and carried on where Rowe had left off slotting the ball between the posts.
Entering the last part of the half, Wanderers were dominating the scrum, showing great strength from Shaheer Khan and Dominick Springer. Khan then suffered an injury to his ankle when he slipped. Thanet closed out the half with good handling from Myles Wise, Harvey Stocker and Kai Clarricoats which led to two further tries for Divine to complete his hat trick. These were both converted by Jordan-Smith and half time was reached with Wanderers leading 49-0.
The side was now changed reverting to the original starting line up, but some players were moved out of position to give them a better appreciation of how to adapt to these changing conditions.
Cranbrook, to their credit, never dropped their heads and came out for the second half with extra purpose and in the first few minutes, after a mix up in the Wanderers defence, got themselves on the score sheet. However, a few minutes later excellent work from Hunt, Honey, and Hickmott released Carruthers for his second try. Carruthers, Rowe, and O’Callaghan then all combined this time to release Hunt and he scored his second try which Rowe converted.
Thanet then scored two quickfire tries from Carruthers who showed brilliant strength and power to further add to Wanderers tally. One of these was converted by Rowe, the other by Jordan-Smith. Thanet made more changes to the team and their extra fitness and power began to tell as a great team effort, with the ball passing through a number of pairs of hands, led to Carruthers getting his 5th try which Jordan-Smith converted.
The best try of the day came from strong teamwork at the ruck, followed by slick passing by a number of team members allowing Carruthers and Bradley to break away and give a final pass to Andrews for him to run in for our 13th try of the day which was converted by Jordan=Smith.
This made the final score Thanet 89- Cranbrook 5. Both teams had tackled the conditions head-on and demonstrated a great display of youth rugby.
Special thanks to our travelling parents who endured the terrible weather conditions and gave the boys great support.
Head Coach Smith said afterwards “We were really pleased with the performance, as we managed to give all the boys game time and put in place many of the aspects of the game we have worked on in training and we got a great win. We asked for maximum effort and to show desire as a base and they delivered. Conditions were testing at times but their attitude was spot on and there were no complaints. They made us proud as always”.