CANTERBURY 33 CINDERFORD 30
It may have been the last fling of an exhausting season but you could not fault the players of either side for the entertainment value of a game that went down to the wire.
The lead changed hands eight times before Canterbury edged in front for the last time through a Tom Best penalty goal which earned them a first home victory for two months.
The win also secured the city side an eighth place finish in National 2 South, an improvement on last season and appropriate as they won exactly half their 30 games.
On a day of farewells, with skipper Tom Burns, full back Martyn Beaumont and lock Glynn Edwards making their final appearances for the club, there was an understandable anxiety for Canterbury to do well.
Cinderford, however, had plenty of incentive themselves as a top six finish still beckoned and they made the early running with a try from scrum half Alex Frame, converted by James Moffatt.
It took the city side just three minutes to find a reply and set the unpredictable pattern of the whole game. Cinderford fumbled, Canterbury’s backs swooped and one of the new breed of young city players, Piers Richardson, produced some clever footwork to claim the try. Best converted and off we went on the roller coaster,
Only once in the rest of the half was there a glimpse of proper daylight between the sides when the visitors opened a nine point lead as both teams fed off each others mistakes.
Flanker Will Keenan and wing Harrison Yorke scored for Cinderford, courtesy of a spilled ball and the interception of a wildly ambitious pass. Moffat added a conversion and a penalty goal but Best kept them in check with two penalties and on the stroke of half time the city backs worked an overlap for Max Howard to narrow the gap to just four points.
With the breeze behind them and a growing authority at the set scrums Canterbury had reasons to be hopeful and when Richardson got his second try on the 50 minute mark to reclaim the lead one of the season’s biggest crowds sensed a change. Luck seemed to be shifting Canterbury’s way because it was possession reclaimed from a Best penalty shot which rebounded from a post that set up Richardson’s score.
Optimism, however, was premature and while the city side began to enjoy territory they lost focus and Cinderford broke from deep to give Yorke his second touchdown.
Once again there was a swift response and again a touch of luck was involved. A bouncing pass wrong footed the visitors and gave Will Farris a clear run to the line. It was still far from over. Best’s conversion and another Moffat penalty left the game tied at 30-30 with nine minutes remaining on the clock. It was the dominant Canterbury scrum that did the trick. An under pressure visiting pack conceded a scrum penalty and Best delivered the successful final act of a flawed but fascinating last day.
Canterbury: M.Beaumont, P.Richardson, C.Kingsman, W.Farrris (repl F.Morgan), M.Howard (repl A.Moss), T.Best, D.Smart, J.Green, S.Rogers (repl C.Townley), A.Cooper (rep S.Kenny), G.Edwards (repl T.Burns), T.Burns (repl L.Woodbridge), , M.Cantwell, (repl S.Rogers),H.McCormick-Houston, G.Micans
|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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