Sunday the 15th December marked the last rugby games of 2019 and ended a successful year for Wanderers U14s. Having grown the squad size again since the start of the season the Coaches have been able to offer more rugby than ever before to all the boys and to continue to develop all the players and last weekend was no exception.

Canterbury are a team that Thanet has probably played more than any over the years and they are a side that Wanderers have always looked to as a benchmark. Having good links with them, Thanet also have great respect for their team and their Coaches.

Canterbury kicked off and they immediately found themselves under pressure from Thanet. Vinnie Perkins, Theo Rowe, and Max Anderson all had good early touches of the ball and showed great confidence. Thanet started with great intent and within two minutes, Henry Carruthers, who was dictating some great team play, fed out to Hugo Evans who passed onto Stanley Ball and he got the opportunity to show off his speed and ran in and placed the ball right under the posts, giving Rowe an easy conversion kick.

Thanet continued to dominate with Gil Smith, Jack Brewer and Fred O’Halloran all regularly winning possession back. After some great pressure, Tom O’Callaghan gathered the ball in front of the clubhouse balcony and showed great strength to break free and score.

Owen Read at fullback was very assured and made some great probing runs. After good play from Canterbury, one of their centres broke free and looked on his way to a try with only Read to beat, but a huge tackle stopped him in his tracks and bought a great cheer from the watching crowd in recognition of Read’s technique.

Ollie Burch showed he has grown into a very good centre and demonstrated both the defensive and offensive side of his game. He passed the ball onto Ball who scored his second try which was duly converted by Rowe to put Thanet 19-0 up.

Zac Ralph at scrum-half again demonstrated he has grasped the key attributes of that position and after good play from him, when he linked up with Carruthers, Perkins, and Anderson, the ball reached Burch who was able to run in Wanderers fourth try.

The best try of the period came at the end of the half and resulted from a great demonstration of pressure rugby which forced the opposition into mistakes that allowed Thanet to produce a set of quick smooth passes that cut across the pitch from Evans to Carruthurs, then to Issac Divine and Smith finally reaching Oscar Andrews allowing him to score. Wanderers led 29-0 at the half.

The Coaches praised the team for a great half of rugby where they showed brilliant attitude all-round, huge effort and desire.

Changes were made to the team at half time and the Thanet boys were asked to repeat their first-half performance. The old cliche of it was ‘Nil Nil’ was unleashed.

Canterbury came out stronger in the second half and showed they had not let the scoreline effect them. Thanet had to dig deep to show they could deal with pressure and they passed with flying colours. Charlie Panteli and Ollie Jordan Smith, now on at nine and ten, showed great skill and ability and put constant pressure on the Canterbury defence with some great kicking.

Some excellent play by Oscar Bradley and Finley Hickmott released Carruthers who still had plenty to do, but he showed a massive desire to get on the score sheet. Panteli kicked the conversion.

Thanet established themselves in the Canterbury half again and a great break by Carruthers saw the ball pass from Evans on to Burch who ran in with the support of Linus Honey. Panteli again kicked the extra points. From the restart, Wanderers took possession and Divine picked up the ball and headed into a sea of players but he was determined to get a try and he powered through to get a well-deserved score.

With ten minutes to go, Thanet continued to effectively pressure the opposition. After some great rucking from Hickmott, Panteli, and Divine, O’Callaghan gathered the ball and ran in his second try which Panteli converted. This left Wanderers 55-0 up on the scoreboard.

Canterbury to their credit dug deep and forced Thanet to show some great defensive work to keep them out. At one point Jordan Smith intercepted a kick from Canterbury by reading the bounce and he then ran a huge amount of the pitch to take the pressure off Wanderers. With five minutes remaining in the match Canterbury got their reward for not giving up when Dara Semple scored and the try was converted. Soon after this, the game finished.

The final score was Thanet 55 – Canterbury 7. This was a very good win for Thanet as they hold Canterbury in high regard. The final group game between Thanet and Sevenoaks in February 2020 will be the group decider as both teams have won all their games so far in this competition.

East Kent Pirates U14s v Dartfordians U14s

Thanet provided nine members of their U14s squad to play in the East Kent Pirates (Barbarians) team against Dartfordians in the Kent Cup. The Pirates this time was made up of players from Medway, Dover, and Thanet. Thanet had representatives in Sam Lawless, Ewan Maclean, Harvey Stocker, Shaheer Khan, Kai Clarricoat, Barnaby Price, Myles Wise, Sam Stevenson, and Dominick Springer.

Both teams cancelled each other out in a scoreless first half. It was a close game with nothing between the two sides, but Dartfordians scored first in the middle of the second half but were unable to convert. East Kent Pirates then scored but like their opponents were unable to add the two extra points to leave the score 5 – 5. With three minutes remaining in the game. Dartford managed a try which they converted.  Remarkably, East Kent Pirates then scored with two minutes to go, with Ewan Maclean getting his first try for the side since joining Thanet, but the conversion attempt was unsuccessful. A thrilling game ended 12 – 10 to Dartfordians.

Congratulations must go to all the young Wanderers for another great year when they were a huge credit to the club, their families and to themselves.

Happy Christmas all