Thanet U14s took a development side to Whitstable RFC on Sunday March the 3rd to assist  Whitstable as they continue to redevelop after their junior section almost folded earlier this season due to a lack of players. Thanet made the wet and windy trip to their local rivals with some of the players and coaches arriving early to make the most of the onsite burger van. Whitstable unfortunately only managed to field 13 players initially so despite some of the Thanet boys offering to play for the home side to make up the numbers, the game started as a 13 aside match. Thanet started well dominating the early exchanges with Captain James P kicking and chasing well supported by the Thanet backs who put pressure on their opposite numbers. Three minutes into the game Whitstable suffered their first player injury and Ollie J was the first Thanet player to volunteer to play prop for the opposition in order to keep the numbers in the two teams the same. He ran on to the pitch to loud applause from both sets of parents who appreciated the sportsmanship he had shown.

Thanet continued to pile on the pressure with Whitstable struggling to get out of their own half. The deadlock was broken after five minutes when Thanet’s scrum half Owen J sniped a ball from a ruck close to the Whitstable try line to score the first try of the game which was well converted in windy conditions by stand in fly half James P. The second Thanet try came three minutes later with No 8 Sam M making the most of a strong Thanet scrum fifteen metres out to pick up and go carrying two Whitstable defenders over the line to score. Unfortunately, James P kicking from his weaker side and into the wind was unable to convert. The visitor’s next try came just four minutes later and it looked like a rout was on the cards as a trademark try was scored by winger Josh P who ran through, round and totally confused a number of Whitstable defenders to touch down under the posts. This time the score was well converted by James P. giving Thanet a lead of 19-0 after twelve minutes. One minute later a strong run from former Whitstable player Josh O’D smashing through a couple of Whitstable tackles resulted in a  score in the corner. James P missed the kick which was again on his wrong side. Just five minutes later it was the turn of Thanet’s fly half and captain, James P, to score with some strong running after a great tackle and turnover. However, the wind played havoc with his conversion leaving the score at 29-0 with four  minutes to go to half time. By this time Ollie J had been welcomed back into the Thanet fold as the injured Whitstable prop was able to return to the field. By now all nineteen players in Thanet’s squad had been given some game time and all were playing well enjoying the wet and muddy conditions. The final try of the half came from the quick thinking of prop Ralph H who took a quick tap and go penalty from ten metres out from the line and looked as though he was going to run wide before he stepped inside the covering defence to score close to the posts. Unfortunately this was on the wrong side for James P who was unable to convert leaving the score at 34-0 to Thanet at half time. Now a rout was definitely on the cards!

Thanet’s coach agreed that Whitstable could bring three of their U15s on to the pitch for the second half so that the game could continue with fifteen players a side. Unbeknown to Thanet’s coach until after the game, all three players Whitstable introduced played for Kent U15s!! That said, the second half was a totally different game and a much more even affair. Whitstable managed to retain more possession of the ball as their U15s increased the intensity of the match. Thanet continued to play well making some great tackles and their scrum still dominated, but playing into the wind and rain made it definitely harder for them. The second half deadlock was broken after eight minutes when a strong run by one of the Whitstable U15s was ended by a last-ditch tackle close to the line by Josh O’D. However, in his attempt to stop the player he made a high tackle which led to the ref awarding a penalty try making the score 34-7 to Thanet.

The Thanet players knew now they were in a tougher game and this proved a good test for the team.  Four minutes later Whitstable scored again before Thanet raised their game and started taking the game to Whitstable which resulted in some cracking defending by James P, Patrick S, Josh P, Flynn S and Josh P. Gradually Thanet started to gain more possession and a strong run from a quick tapped penalty taken inside the Thanet half, led to good handling from the backs allowing winger Josh O’D to almost make it to the line. Flanker Flynn S, who during the game had covered all over the pitch, was on hand to pick up the off load and sprint under the posts to make the conversion easy for James P (see photo).

Thanet were buoyed by this score and continued to maintain the pressure forcing Whitstable to kick the ball away and with one minute to go Whitstable made the unfortunate mistake of kicking to the fastest player on the pitch, who by this time was playing at fullback due to an injury to Zak W. Recovering from an initial tackle just outside the Whitstable ten metre line, Josh P managed to get a kick away which was valiantly chased by Flynn S, James P and Patrick S forcing the Whitstable full back to kick back to Thanet. Josh P eager for his second try collected the bouncing ball and ran round and through four Whitstable defenders before scoring under the posts (the try well captured on video by Josh’s parents), James P, tired from his attacking and defensive efforts, was unable to make the conversion. The final score was 46-12 to Thanet leaving both sets of parents having thoroughly enjoyed and been entertained by an attacking game of rugby played in wet and muddy conditions ( some parents enjoying it more than others see photo).

Team Ralph H, Rhys T, Charlie W, Dennis D, Josh J, Flynn S, Sam M, Ben B, Owen J, James P (Capt) Patrick S, Luke D, Josh P, Josh O’D and Zak W. Finishers Ollie J, Tom K, Jack G and Ollie B. POW nominated by Whitstable was Josh P for his outstanding tries and POW nominated by Thanet was Flynn S who is really developing as an all-round Flanker in attack and defence.

J.Deacon Head Coach