Thanet Wanderers U14s vs Ashford U14s

East Kent Tigers U14s vs Old Colfeians Twos U14s.

With everything being closed down with the spread of the Coronavirus it was fortunate that our rugby fixtures were still on, for now!

Thanet were at home for the A Kent Plate semi-final against a very strong Ashford side. Thanet not having lost so far this season in the Kent Cup were looking forward to testing themselves.

From the start, it was a very even game with both teams camping out in the middle of the pitch and both teams making lots of mistakes and showing perhaps a few nerves in view of the occasion.

Thanet’s front row of Max Anderson, Jack Brewer, and Fred O’Halloran were kept busy doing a great job against another very good front row. Theo Rowe and Zach Ralph were Wanderers most creative players initially trying to start attacks but also having to put in a shift in defence.

Great work from Hugo Evans and Toby Hunt presented Henry Carruthers with the first real chance of the game, but Ashford’s defence stood strong. Around half-way, through the first half, Gil Smith initially won the ball, but it was lost back to Ashford. However, Isaac Divine made a crunching tackle, one of many he did throughout the game, and the ball was spilled back into Thanet’s possession, enabling Tom O’Callaghan to pass the ball on to Vinnie Perkins who moved it to Carruthers who weaved his way through Ashford’s line of defence and had the strength in his legs to get to the try line and put Wanderers 5-0 up.

Thanet then had some further good possession with Stanley Ball and Linus Honey both making good runs but Wanderers never really dominated as they would have wanted. In the last seconds of the half, after Thanet gave away another penalty, they lost concentration for a few moments and paid for the lapse as Ashford went over to score a converted try after applying pressure on Wanderers line.

Thanet ended the half 7-5 down. Wanderers’ lads were a little disappointed to concede the late try, but determined to make up for it in the second half.

Thanet began the restart brightly with Charlie Panteli, Sam Stevenson and Oscar Bradley coming into the team as replacements. Wanderers had some good probing runs from Bradley, Carruthers, Divine, and O’Halloran but Ashford tackled well and prevented any further scores. In this period Thanet were probably guilty of too many mistakes and giving away too many penalties.

As the half went on Thanet grew in stature and chased the win, putting good pressure on Ashford and Hunt, Stevenson and Smith all tested their defence.

During the game both sides had players pick up injuries that resulted in them leaving the pitch but in the second half one of the Ashford lads got a particularly nasty knee injury and it is hoped it is not as bad as initially feared and we wish him well.

It was beginning to look like one of those days when despite great pressure from Thanet’s attack they would fail to add to their tally. Then, with the clock going into injury time they were awarded a penalty which they elected to kick. Given Wanderers were two points behind, this was a real pressure kick, but in windy conditions, Panteli kept his head to put Thanet a point up at 8-7.

Virtually from the restart, good play from Divine, Hunt and Carruthers saw the ball released to Ollie Burch. He was well inside Thanet’s own half and had a lot to do but he used his speed to get away and had just enough gas to reach the line and score a try, which Panteli converted.

The final score was Thanet 15 – Ashford 7. A great win for the team which enabled them to reach the Kent Plate final. hey never gave up during this game and always keep going which finally paid off for them.

The East Kent Tigers, made up of players from Canterbury, Medway, Dover and Thanet, had six Wanderers U14s in their line-up in the Kent Development Bowl semi- final against Old Colfeians Twos.

The Thanet players representing the Tigers were Harvey Stocker, Ewan McClean, Henry Mason, Gabriel Mictchell, Owen Read and Kai Clarricoats. The team played fantastically well to win 36-7 and book their place in the final, Stocker converted one of the tries.

This was a great weekend of rugby with both sides making finals which are scheduled to be played on the 5th April at Ashford. Fingers crossed the day does not get cancelled!

Matthew Hickmott.