CANTERBURY 38 BARNSTAPLE 32
A burst of three tries in a six minute spell saw Canterbury get the new year away to a winning start. Until that second half purple patch lit up an untidy and fragmented game, full of stoppages, they could be certain of nothing against the persistent visitors from Devon.
While the city side’s performance may have had something of a holiday hangover about it, the Barnstaple pack take credit for shaping the game for significant periods.
Their ability to slow down ball shackled a city back division whose superior pace could make little impact without front foot possession.
Another factor was the new directive on high tackles and a zealous official applied them strictly and sometimes confusingly. Players will have to absorb the changed interpretations, which led to a couple of yellow cards for Canterbury late in the game, but the rulings did nothing for the match as a spectacle.
It was, however, mostly Barnstaple offences at the breakdown which allowed Tom Best to kick four first half penalty goals. Despite those points and dominating much of the territory it was the visitors who were in front at the break. A catch and drive try from flanker Nat Bayett, plus the conversion and a penalty goal by Isaac Hydleman, gave them a one point advantage. A wobbling lineout and pressurised scrum had not helped the Canterbury cause but they came out for the second period in a livelier frame of mind, despite having lost hooker Tom Rogers to a yellow card
A sharp break by scrum half Dan Smart and a succession of close quarter drives, ended with Hugh McCormick - Huston claiming the city side’s first try five minutes into the half.
Barnstaple countered that with renewed pressure and lock Ben Hilton’s try and a Hydleman conversion reclaimed the lead. It was between the 57th and 63rd minute that the game changed dramatically as Canterbury, belatedly, discovered their rhythm. Rogers celebrated his return from the sin-bin with a powerful burst and offload for skipper Tom Burns to touch down. Next it was centre Will Farris scattering frail defending to score and the match clinching try came through a quick thinking blind side attack which saw Guy Hilton finish off. Best converted all three to put Canterbury eighteen points ahead.
It was now a case of catch-up for Barnstaple and yellow cards for city replacements Freddy Edwards and Logan Woodbridge gave them an outside chance. The experienced Hilton was driven over for his second score and in the last minute the extra numbers told as Ryan Carter swept over. Two Hydleman conversions earned a second bonus point, rewarding the visitors for effectively martialing their forward strengths.
Canterbury: J.Jones, G.Hilton, JJ Murray, W.Farris, B.Howard, T.Best, D.Smart (repl K.Braithwaite), J.Green (repl C.Townley), T.Rogers, A.Cooper (repl S.Kenny), G.Edwards, T.Burns, S.Rogers, H.McCormick-Huston (repl L.Woodbridge) M.Cantwell (repl F.Edwards).
|11||Bury St Edmunds||30||64|
|12||London Irish Wild Geese||30||56|
|W||22 Apr||Bury St. Edmunds||14-13|
|L||25 Feb||Bishop's Stortford||30-46|
|W||11 Feb||London Irish WG||21-17|
|L||4 Feb||Taunton Titans||5-30|
|D||21 Jan||Bishop's Stortford||0-0|
|L||17 Dec||Old Elthamians||14-18|
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