Thanet Wanderers U13s travelled to Ashford RFC on Sunday the 17th March to play games against both Ashford and touring side Guildford RFC.

Although the ground was soft the morning was clear with a slight chill in the air. Thanet  travelled with a squad of eighteen players and were due to play both games each split into two fifteen minute halves.

Wanderers’ first opponents were Ashford, who have had a very good season to date and are in the Trophy finals of the Kent Waterfall Tournament which places them in the top six sides in Kent in their age group at present.

From the kick off Thanet immediately put pressure on the Ashford team. The boys were playing a quick high press game that was pushing the opposition back with Theo ROWE, Shaheer KHAN and Barnaby PRICE leading the way. Ollie BURCH, Linus HONEY and Henry CARRUTHERS were seeing plenty of the ball and they demonstrated great confidence in their play, but perhaps as a team overall, when in possession, Wanderers lacked care with the ball.

After just two minutes there was a dream example of quick passing from Thanet as the ball went through the hands of Fred O’HALLORAN, Toby HUNT, Ollie Jordan SMITH, Gil SMITH and ended up with Ollie BURCH who had one person to beat and with a neat side step he rounded the player to open the scoring.
Wanderers continued to play well until with around eight minutes gone in the game, a very good jinking run from one of the Ashford players saw them draw the score level.
Owen READ, was playing full back and was seeing plenty of the ball as Ashford kicked to clear their lines.

The first half came and to an end and the coaches introduced Oscar ANDREWS into the game as KHAN had sustained a cut to his knee and needed to go off to get it cleaned up.
Thanet started the second half a little slowly and a few missed tackles allowed Ashford in to score their second try. Wanderers introduced Oscar BRADLEY on to the field and soon after Henry CARRUTHERS went on a great run twisting and turning around the opposition, eventually touching down and levelling the scores.

Ashford continued to play well and it was a fairly even contest until they took the lead again after a good run from one of their players from a fair distance out from the try line.
Wanderers were not to be outdone and Vinnie PERKINS picked up the ball from well inside Thanet’s own half and after good work from Max ANDERSON, ROWE and JORDAN SMITH. PERKINS put in a massive run and sprinted away from all Ashford’s players to score and again draw Wanderers level.
Ashford did then score another to put them back in the lead.
Thanet’s players picked up a few injuries with JORDAN SMITH sustaining damage to his hip and HUNT hurting his wrist, injuries that ended the day’s rugby for both the boys.
The match ended soon after the injuries occurred. Although Thanet had lost narrowly by 20-15 the coaches were pleased that the boys had played well and possibly for large parts of the game looked the better side. This was another great learning experience for the squad.

After a short break Thanet were ready to take on the touring side, Guildford RFC.
The coaches introduced Finn HICKMOTT, Henry MASON and Charlie PANTELI and patched up some of the others boys with minor injuries and the team went straight out to play.
Now, although the weather had been fine, the boys were subjected to a short bout of freezing hail before they could get back to the rugby.

Wanderers dominated from the off, being quicker, stronger and showing greater effort and desire. They were first to the rucks and winning the scrums and for the spectators and coaches it was great to watch. Thanet opened the scoring through CARRUTHERS who executed a trade mark run after great work from PANTELI and MASON. Soon after ROWE scored a brilliant individual try showing some great flair in the process to make it 10-0.
Guildford then capitalised on a lack of concentration in the Thanet team and grabbed a try themselves to make it 10-5.

From this moment onwards Thanet pushed harder and Guildford did not get a look in. The first half finished with SMITH and PERKINS each scoring a powerful try to give Wanderers a 20-5 lead at the break.
Thanet came out in the second half and showed some great team play mixed with some individual brilliance and the boys were a joy to watch.
BRADLEY opened the scoring in the half with a try that showed he was back to his best. PERKINS got two more with strong long runs to get his hat-trick of tries.

Wanderers were not done yet with ANDREWS showing a great turn of speed to score and Thanet finished off with CARRUTHERS getting his second and the last of the game to make the final score 45-5.
The boys had a very good morning’s rugby and all of them put in a good performance. Fred O’HALLORAN again tackled strongly and Ollie JORDAN SMITY was creative and brilliant in open play. Henry CARRUTHERS and Vinnie PERKINS produced some great all round play,  but the weeks’ man of the matches went to Theo ROWE, who was very consistent and led the high line of pressure well, passed superbly, scored and was a threat throughout. Well done to Theo and to all the lads.

Overall Thanet had a good showing of rugby. The Ashford game could have gone either way and Wanderers showed once again they can compete with the better sides now. In the game against  Guildford Thanet played some excellent rugby, if a little too individual at times, but scored well and had a convincing win.

Next up are Aylesford Bulls, in a couple of weeks and we look forward to entertaining them.

Matthew Hickmott