Match Details

8th December 20182.00pm1st XV15-15Haywards HeathLONDON 2 South EastHome
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A tremendous contest ends all square after eighty exciting minutes.

Wanderers were without injured tight head prop Kamil Wiecaszek for the first time this season. He was replaced by Jon Walker Smith starting for the first time in two years. He was the forty-first player to appear in the Thanet Squad in the first half of this season. Nick Herbert reclaimed the ten shirt and Brett Scott was back on the bench. Reece Hougham pulled up in the warm up with Marius Thompson starting

A gusty wind was blowing diagonally up the pitch as the visitors kicked off into it. Sam Rolfe's important early strong tackle halted a Heath speeding runner and a penalty was won and quickly taken. The ball was hurried along the line to Thompson and a well judged chip bounced kindly for the young winger to touch down his first senior try. No conversion but Wanderers led 5-0 within the opening five minutes. Good technique from Thanet open-side Sam Taylor at a breakdown won a penalty and Rolfe added the three points from near the touchline 30 metres out. The momentum was with Wanderers but another good opportunity went begging before the second try came. A more controlled build up with Charlie Knight prominent ended with Nick Herbert claiming his second try from just three starts this season. Rolfe made an excellent conversion from wide right giving Wanderers a 15-0 lead within the first fifteen minutes.

Penalties were swopped with todays excellent referee Steve Matthews very strict at the breakdown. A penalty to the visitors reduced the deficit to 15-3 on twenty minutes and a few errors crept in as Wanderers sought to maintain the high pace of their game. As the wind strengthened Wanderers needed at least another score before half time but Heaths defence was good. Five minutes of the half remained when Heath broke at pace and skipped through some home tackles before touching down wide right for a try that was unconverted. The score remained at 15-8 at half time.

For the second half Scott replaced Dave Lemon who seems to be playing better than ever and George Orton replaced Arek Janeczko who despite injury had played to his own high standards. Both sides looked threatening but scoring opportunities were few. Wanderers took a scrum against the head and a Thanet attack was halted by a deliberate knock on. Tom Walton was a constant threat around the fringes but could not break free. The wind affected kicking with touches missed but a lineout was pinched and despite not building through phases Wanderers were generally playing well. So were the visitors and as the hour mark approached they struck. A five metre lineout drew in defenders and there was no stopping their big runner who crashed over. The conversion was good and the scores were level at 15-15. Walker-Smith had played well but was now near to a standstill and took a well earned break with Lemon returning. Andy Letts moved to the front row. A great break by Stuart Plumridge set Thanets agenda for the closing period. Fellow centre Ryan Copp broke powerfully but was dragged down close to the line. Thanet√Ęs attack followed attack with Danny Clement and Letts testing the visitors. Captain Adam Gaddes and forwards coach Neil Wakefield led the pack in battering away at the Heath line but their defence lived up to their miserly reputation and the side remained a constant attacking threat. Plenty of excitement but no further score in this well contested match between two very capable and sporting sides. A draw was generally considered a fair reflection of the game that yielded both sides two league points.

This was another fine all round performance from the Wanderers and there were many candidates for the Malachy Egan Man of the Match award but the Coaches choice was Stuart Plumridge who was again ultra reliable in the tackle and a constant threat in attack.

The final match of the year is next Saturday 15th December away at Maidstone who are tenth in the league, five points behind Thanet in ninth. Kick off is at 2PM.

SQUAD: Clement, Wakefield, Walker-Smith, Janeczko, Gaddes (C.) Lemon, Taylor, Letts, Walton, Herbert, Knight, Plumridge, Copp, Thompson, Rolfe. Subs: Orton, Scott, Hougham

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