On a very busy morning of rugby at St Peters Recreation Ground Broadstairs, Thanet Wanderers under 14s took on Old Elthamians under 14s in the Kent Cup, while at Sittingbourne a further ten members of Thanet’s U14s squad represented the Canterbury/Medway/Thanet Barbarians, also known as East Kent Pirates, again in the Kent Cup.
In Broadstairs, straight from the kick-off, Wanderers tried to establish dominance, with Isaac Divine, Toby Hunt and Fred O’Halloran all putting in some great tackles, but with both sides jostling for possession the teams initially cancelled each other out. Thanet’s scrum, led by the front row of Max Anderson, Jack Brewer, and O’Halloran, was, for another week, very strong and was well controlled by Gil Smith playing in the number eight position.
Wanderers started to play the ball well with Henry Carruthers at the centre of a lot of the attacks and Zach Ralph, Ollie Burch and Linus Honey all showing some lovely touches in the build-up play. Unfortunately for the second week in a row, one of Thanet’s players sustained a nose injury and this time it was Charlie Panteli who had to come off the field of play to receive treatment, although he would return to the game later.
After some huge pressure from Wanderers on the Old Elthamians try line the visitors were forced to kick and the ball carried through to Sam Stevenson who made a great catch from a horribly high moving ball. From further sustained Wanderers pressure, Carruthers scored a trademark try to give Thanet the lead and this was converted seamlessly by captain Theo Rowe.
Wanderers seemed spurred on by this score and Hugo Evans and Barnaby Price gained great yardage with some powerful runs. Just before the end of the half, Gil Smith made a great break away in front of the clubhouse and then passed the ball to Tom O’Callaghan, who left with plenty of work to do, avoided three or four tackles to run in under the posts for Thanet’s second try, which gave Rowe another easy conversion.
At half time Thanet led 14-0. The coaches asked the lads to reduce the number of penalties they were giving away, but also praised them for their defensive work and for their effort in gaining the lead.
Wanderers went out for the second half having made some changes to the team. Henry Mason went on at hooker and immediately showed massive determination to win the ball.
Thanet were playing well, perhaps without getting the reward they deserved.
Kai Clarricoats was prominent with some greats probing runs but probably needed to be given quicker ball for this to bring results. On the other wing, Oscar Bradley linked play well and supported attacks but did not get a clear run to show his real speed.
Ollie Jordan Smith was a constant threat when on the ball and dictated many of the plays.
Good strong play from Carruthers and Sam Lawless put Thanet right on the Old Elthamians try line but another penalty given away by the home side stopped this attack. From the resulting kick, the visitors tried to find touch but great positioning from O’Callaghan stopped this from happening and he gathered possession to find himself with just one player to beat. He showed a clear head and determination to power over for his second try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Wanderers made further changes to the team to give all the squad as much game time as possible and to replace a few of the lads who had picked up injuries.
Thanet achieved the win with a 19-0 victory. It was probably not one of their most fluid performances but nonetheless, a win and the defensive play of the whole team on the day was awesome.
The East Kent Pirates (Barbarians) team playing in Sittingbourne was made up of ten players from Thanet and four from Medway, one team member short of the normal fifteen. Under the captaincy of Harvey Stocker, nine of the Thanet lads commenced the game playing out of their usual starting positions, while Ewan Mclean made his debut for the squad after recently joining Thanet Wanderers.
Straight out of the gate the Baba’s dominated the play. Vinnie Perkins made some great yardage before the ball was passed through quick hands to reach Oscar Andrews who was able to reach the try line despite the Sittingbourne player’s efforts to stop him.
The Barbarians then conceded a penalty and Sittingbourne took the three points on offer. The rest of the first half was packed with good rugby from both sides, with Dominick Springer, Shaheer Khan and Owen Evans all showing great strength in possession, enabling The Pirates to reach the break still with the lead.
Sittingbourne came out for the second half with some fresh legs due to team changes and it showed in their growing dominance. They took full advantage of their extra player and scored two tries in quick succession. Successful conversions had been rare in this game but Sittingbourne managed to convert their last try.
However, the Pirates weren’t done yet. Showing his usual prowess, Vinnie picked up the ball out of a scrum on Sittingbourne’s twenty two metre line and ran it over the try line. The conversation, unfortunately, was missed.
Owen Read made some game-altering tackles, as did Harvey, Ewan and Harry Kirkpatrick and when the Baba’s were in possession they showed some nice touches with Myles Wise gaining some good territory.
Near the final whistle, Sittingbourne increased their effort and registered the final try to make the score 20-10 to Sittingbourne.
Despite losing the Barbarians played well. Compliments were received about the boys’ conduct which does them great credit and thanks must go to the Medway coach for managing the team.
Wanderers U14s are at home to Whitstable for a friendly fixture next week.