By Colin Whiteley
THANET WANDERERS RUFC 28 – 8 FOLKESTONE RFC
For Thanet, injuries in last week’s win at Charlton Park sidelined second row Jack Startin and outside half Marius Thompson where they joined two other reluctant spectators, Nick Herbert and. Charlie Knight, who between them scored five of Thanet’s seven tries in the second leg.
Lenny Brown started at No. 2 and Callum Doody at 10; Danny Clement and Andy Letts were on the bench.
Wanderers raced down the slope against a strong wind and Connor Brown’s early break sent Wanderers deep into the visitors’ half before a shot gave Folkestone the chance to clear long on the breeze.
James Hamilton gained many yards from a nice break and then James Green was about to hit the ground, before being held over the line. Folkestone settled down and at the quarter of an hour took three points from the penalty spot in front of the posts.
Tom Walton’s show and go and a well-judged kick ended in more frustration with a jab down the line and once again Folkestone cleared the midfield well. In the 25th minute, Folkestone went further with a well-constructed try that featured most of his back line before the touchdown wide on the left. No transformation but the visitors led 8-0.
Wanderers quickly closed the gap as Walton shifted an attack just before moving on to right winger Ryan Copp who still had a lot to do as he cut through a crowd of opposition defenders before landing for that Walton converts and makes it 7-8.
Six minutes into first-half added time, Walton faked and smashed his way through the Folkestone defense to score a fine try which he then converted to put Wanderers ahead 14-8 at half-time.
Harry Clemo took a well-deserved break after a knock early in the second half with Gully Goodall joining in the front row. Further breaks from Connor Brown and Walton kept Thanet on the offensive.
In the 15th minute of the second half, the versatile Danny Clement replaced Harry Carter in the center and Warren Riddell-Broomfield made way for Andy Letts.
Wanderers’ second try was scored by Lenny Brown, his second try of the season after a well-controlled lineout and catch and drive. Walton’s excellent conversion extended the lead to 21-8.
Green’s reckless return from an opponent to safety, after a tackle, earned the loose header ten minutes in the trash: a blow in an otherwise excellent performance from the experienced prop.
Thanet handled his absence well thanks to Letts’ cover tackle, followed a few minutes later by a particularly valuable big break. Louis Marshall’s red card last week was quickly overturned by Kent RFU this week, allowing the winger to play for an hour with Carter back.
Restored to 15, Wanderers pressed for the important fourth try, Neil Wakefield made a fine break before another jab blocked the drive towards the line.
Clement was having fun in the back line and after a penalty placed in a good position on the pitch, 35 yards from the Folkestone try line, he crossed the defensive line and the ball was moved quickly along the Thanet line for Harry Carter to claim his second try for the first XV. and secure the trial bonus point. Walton’s superb conversion from wide on the left just slipped in to seal a fine performance for Thanet’s scrum-half.
Thanet’s pack worked very well with hooker Neil Wakefield, having exceptional play both on the loose and on set pieces. He and his experienced partner James Green have formed good partnerships with young props Harry Clemo and Gully Goodall, as have the two Browns operating in the second tier.
Warren Riddell-Bloomfield has been in excellent form in the six-man shirt, joining up well with skipper Sam Taylor and ‘Mr Consistent’ James Hamilton to form a powerful unit. The replacements were all forwards, Gully Goodall, Andy Letts and Danny Clement, who promises he can play anywhere, has played and made big contributions.
Thanet’s back has yet to form a stable unit mainly due to injuries and work commitments. There was experience at Ryan Copp and Louis Marshall on the wings and plenty of promise at young centers Harry Carter and Cameron Beck.
John Oxley, who joined us this season from Beccehamian, is a talented player who has played at full-back in all four of his starts, but can also play as a centre-back. Callum Doody was on the sidelines rather than his favorite scrum-half and performed well in his new role.
At scrum-half was Tom Walton who put in a generally confident performance, scored a magnificent try and was a threat every time he had the ball. His kick was a revelation and helped him win the Man of the Match award the day before his twenty-first birthday. Congratulations Tom.
The Premier XV are matchless this coming Saturday, although the 2 face a long way to face Southwark Lancers 2 in the second round of the Kent Shield. The 2 warmed up by beating Medway 43-22 and the 3 beat their Folkestone counterparts 88-0 to maintain their push for league honours.