Wanderers miss Kent Shield final in tight game – The Isle Of Thanet News
By Colin Whiteley
THANET WANDERERS 2s 12 – 15 DARTFORDIANS 2s
Thanet’s squad was a good mix of youth and experience and there was optimism despite the opposition playing in the top Invicta league.
A good crowd watched as the visitors raced down the slope with the benefit of a strong breeze at their backs. Penalties were exchanged before the visitors’ big field overpowered the home attackers near the Thanet line in a scrum to establish a good attacking position and after ten minutes their team effort resulted in a touchdown under the posts.
Five minutes later it was 10-0 for Darts after their big runners combined to break through the home defense for an unconverted second down. Wanderers regrouped and worked their way into the game with a smooth, fine move that started with fullback Jimmy Robinson answering the screams to open it up and continued with good handling down the line for that winger Fran Gillespie finishes well.
The downwind conversion failed, but the Wanderers were on the board at 10-5. As half time approached, a penalty for a high tackle placed a line of darts 10 yards from the starting line. The resulting drive was well defended and eventually the Thanet pack won the penalty which averted the immediate danger and demonstrated how much they had reconciled with their opponents in the first half.
Wanderers started the second half confidently before conceding a penalty which gave Darts the chance to clear their lines. Harry Carter took a break with skipper James Langridge joining the revamped backline. Two minutes later, Kris Finneran left to be replaced by Reagan Doody. Thanet fought to cross the line in the corner near the clubhouse but was held back by a strong defence.
Thompson opted to take the points before uncharacteristically firing the attempt left of the posts. Noah Dann had just been sent off after a fine senior debut that saw him complete six turnovers in the first half hour of the game. Finneran came back to join the peloton whose rolling maul, from afar, was approaching the line to be dragged down.
Referee, Steve Matthews had seen enough, and signaled the penalty try that took Wanderers into a 12-10 lead. A penalty for a high tackle, immediately after the restart, set up a good platform for the Dartfordians who built up good pressure before moving wide to the right. The conversion failed but the visitors led 15-12 with twenty minutes remaining. Jay Sanford retired, with crew chief Michael Whitehead as hooker.
Both teams worked hard for the next scoreline and Leon Doody stood out with a series of fine tackles against much bigger opponents. There were no further scores, however, and it is Dartfordians 2 who will play in the Kent Shield final against Colfeians this year. Good luck to them, they played their part well in an entertaining and sporting semi-final.
There were eye-catching performances for Thanet from tight-headed Michael Morris and 8-year-old Lennie Brown, but the coaches’ choice as man of the match was Will Craven who had an exceptional away game in this which seems to be his last match. before leaving to begin his army officer training at RMA Sandhurst. Good luck Will.
No game for the 2 this week, their last match is at Dover on April 2.
SQUAD: – Luke Browning, Jay Sanford, Mike Morris, Kris Finneran, Matt Jacobs, Noah Dann, Will Craven, Lenny Brown, Harrison Leach, Maz Thompson, Fran Gillespie, Cam Beck, Harry Carter, Tom Stevens, Jimmy Robinson. SUBSTITUTES: Michael Whitehead, Reagan Doody, James Langridge, Leon Doody.