CANTERBURY 25 CLIFTON 42
This was a Canterbury horror show as they were swept aside with alarming ease. A confident and highly competent Clifton ran in six tries before easing back on the accelerator to allow the city side the crumb of a losing bonus point.
The visitors claimed their own bonus with four first half tries before swiftly putting the game to bed. Against fragile defending it took them just eight minutes of the second half to add a couple more and emphasise the gulf in class.
Canterbury were not just off the boil, they barely reached simmering point against opponents whose work rate, ball carrying skills and appetite were way ahead.
They made their intentions clear with an early try from impressive centre James Newey and although Tom Best pulled back three points through a penalty goal the warning signs were there as Canterbury fell off tackles and were turned over all too easily.
A punishing break and deft work by the Clifton back row brought them a second try scored by Josh Bayliss before the city side had a redeeming moment in the 25th minute. A penalty set up a catch and drive opportunity which didn’t quite go all the way, but quick ruck ball saw Hugh McCormick- Huston plunge over for a try which Best converted.
If that raised hopes they were quickly squashed as Clifton opened an eighteen point gap with two pieces of individual flair. First it was scrum half Mitch Spencer, who broke from 45 metres out, followed by Newey’s great run and finish from his own half which skewered Canterbury. With Brad Barnes adding conversions to every try the punishment was severe, but on the cusp of half time Clifton handed the city club a brief lifeline. Faith in their attacking instincts for once let them down and a dropped pass was snapped up by Kieran Thompson whose try came as a timely boost.
To make it count, however, Canterbury needed to grab the initiative in the second half but their weaknesses let them down and Clifton quickly vanished over the horizon.
Lock Henry Harper broke through a line-out all too easily before prop Alex Giltrow got his side’s fifth try. Another turnover put pressure back on the home defence and hooker Dave Wheeler charged down Aiden Moss’s kick to put the result out of sight
Only in the last ten minutes did the city side get the possession and any sort of momentum. Moss made the run which ushered Guy Hilton over the line and a catch and drive in the closing seconds paved the way for McCormick-Huston to cross for the bonus point. All of it much too late.
Canterbury: A.Moss, G.Hilton, JJ Murray, W.Farris, B.Howard (repl K.Thompson), T.Best, D.Smart ((repl K.Braithwaite), J.Green, T.Rogers (repl C.Townley), S.Kenny, T.Burns, G.Edwards ( repl A.Cooper), T.Edwards (repl J.Stephens), S.Rogers, H .McCormick-Huston,
|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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