28th April 2019

Thanet Wanderers u14s made their way to an overcast Folkestone RFC on Sunday morning to take part in the Kent 7s Festival only their second 7s festival. Having won the Kent Bowl last season at their first attempt they were hoping to do better this year.

Thanet took a strong squad of 12 players, but due to Kent training and Easter holidays and only having had one practice session at 7s, the team and coaches were looking forward to a good hard competition. Placed in a strong group 1 Thanet were first up against Sevenoaks A who had beaten us by 6 tries to 1 last year and were fresh off the back of winning the Kent Cup at 15s rugby. Thanet started strongly with confident running and passing and off loading well in support to run in 3 tries in the first half from Max R, Josh P and Owen J, who scored with a typical sniping run from scrum half. All 3 were well converted by Harrison Q. Sevenoaks managed to sneak 1 try back, but Thanet led 21-7 at the break. Sevenoaks rallied in the second half, however the Thanet defence was good and strong and maintained their cover across the pitch. Beau, James P put in some thundering hits with Josh P making some great cover tackles before Max R broke the deadlock in the second half with another strong run beating several players. Thanet ended up the winners 26-7 and put down a marker that was noticed across all 4 groups.

Thanet’s next opposition was Aylesford B and this gave a chance to the rest of the squad to show their mettle. Continuing where their fellow squad members left off in the first game Thanet  attacked strongly and, some charging runs from Oz W, Sam M and Flynn challenged the Bulls defence before Sam M broke the defence with a 30 metre run for the line. His try was well converted by Captain James P. Some great support play led to the second score with Flynn S beating several defenders to run in under the post and he then converted his own try. Thanet led 14-0 at the break. The second half saw Harrison return to the fray and captain James P rested. Harrison made some strong runs and great tackles and was rewarded with the 3rd try which he again converted. The final try of the game came from another Flynn S break and he offloaded well to wing Luke D who stepped inside his opposite man to score but unfortunately he could not make the conversion. The final tally was 26-0 to Thanet.

The third and final group game was against Beccehamians who Thanet had beaten in the semi-final of the Kent 15s competition in a tight game. Thanet again knew they were in for a tough game against the large Beccs squad. Carrying on the momentum from the first 2 games Thanet again started strongly, ran well and made good line breaks. Their quick line defence meant Beccs had little time on the ball. A first half hat trick for Max R and another try for Josh P meant Thanet led 26 – 0 at the break. A rotation of players at half time with the coaches and players having an eye on the quarter final game to follow meant no let off for Beccs in the second half and Thanet scored 2 more tries, one each from Josh P and Oz W who converted his own try. A solitary try by Beccehamians meant Thanet won 38 -7 and came out group 1 winners conceding only 2 tries in the process. This spoke volumes for the strength of the Thanet defence and all the boys put in some big hits with Beau T, Oz and Max at the fore.

The quarter final saw Thanet pitched against Beckenham. The teams had recently played each other when Beckenham had been on tour. Knowing that their opponents had some big strong quick players Thanet knew they would have to be strong in defence. Thanet were quick off the mark again and Max R got them off to a good start with a turnover from a Beckenham ruck and he then outpaced his opposite number to score the opening try which was converted by Harrison. Beau T then showed his strong running ability by breaking several tackles to burst over for the second try. Beckenham then managed to sneak a score before Oz W reaped the rewards of his excellent support work all day by scoring the final try of the first half which he also converted. The referee appeared to forget how long the halves were supposed to run and the team played an extra 4 minutes before the half time whistle was blown. Thanet led 19-0 at the break. Beckenham started strongly in the second half which meant some strong tackling was required and Farzaam again defied physics with some great tackles against players twice his size. Josh P scored another scintillating try outpacing the Beckenham players before Beckenham finished with a flourish and a late try making the final score 26-10 to Thanet. The boys now had a semi-final to look forward to against Canterbury.

A quick turn around meant Thanet had to play again after only a 15 minute break and having already played an extra 4 minutes in the quarter final Thanet took to the pitch with weary legs knowing they would have to be at their best to beat a strong Canterbury team. That said Thanet started the better of the two teams pressurising their opposition with some crunching tackles, Josh P bearing the fruits of this by picking up a spilt ball and racing through the Canterbury line to score under the posts. Harrison Q converted the try. Canterbury then upped their game and some uncharacteristic missed tackles by Thanet led to trwo Canterbury tries before the break. Thanet turned around down for the first time in the tournament 7-14. Determined to make amends in the second half Thanet again started strongly regularly breaking the Canterbury line but just unable to make the final telling pass. Max R went close with a great kick and chase, but Canterbury had the luck of the bounce and took the ball over the sideline which led to a five metre scrum to Thanet. Scrum Half Owen J made a dart around the blindside of the scrum only to be held up over the line. Two quick injuries in succession to Harrison Q and Oz W meant some disruption to Thanet and these were followed by a quick tap and go from Canterbury on the last play of the game which enabled them to score and gave them the flattering score line of 21-7 winners.

Disappointed as the players were, the parents and coaches were really proud of the team’s efforts and to make it into the top 4 in the County in the 7s festival is a fantastic achievement and shows how far the players have progressed this season. Several opposition coaches commented on how well the boys had played throughout which is always a pleasure to hear.

Team: – Max R, Beau T, Oz W, Owen J, Harrison Q, James P (Capt.), Josh P, Sam M, Flynn S Patrick S, Luke D, Farzaam Y.

J.Deacon Head Coach