|3rd February 2018||2.30pm||Aylesford Bulls||10-29||2nd XV||Premier 3 East League||A|
A cold, grey, drizzly day saw Thanet 2s run out against an Aylesford team that saw themselves in a similar league position to their visitors.
A slightly mixed side with several players in unfamiliar jerseys did not impact on the performance and the Thanet boys hit the ground running from the kick off, pushing their hosts deep into their own half early on, Reece Hougham only denied on his first attacking foray by some scrambling defence.
This proved only a temporary respite, however, as the youngster soon opened his account after some good build up play saw him squeeze through to the line. A clean catch and set from the restart was followed by some well structured and strong carrying from a pack which featured a very youthful backrow trio along with some more mature heads in the tight 5 including Andy Boughton at Prop who, after finding himself in the wider channels, was able to shift the ball well to Jimmy Robinson on the wing who was able to beat the last few defenders and score wide on the left, Ellison Hall adding the extras for 12-0.
A spell of possession for Aylesford now tested the Thanet defence which proved up to the task with some great tackled coming in from all positions, forcing the Attack into a speculative kick which found the arms of fullback Jake Whittlesea who, after stepping the first two challenges and making good ground, was able to offload out of the tackle to unlikely centre Kris Finneran on a support line which saw him break through and score, with Ellison adding another conversion with an assist by the crossbar.
The half ended with a period of ill discipline by Wanderers which allowed Aylesford to build pressure inside our half culminating in a try from a well worked lineout catch and drive which the Thanet pack were helpless to repel making the score at the break 19-5.
The 2nd period continued much as the first had ended with the Hosts building in confidence and gaining an increased foothold in the game, putting our defence to the test but finding it largely impenetrable with the big hits continuing to come in.
Nevertheless, the relentless pressure soon told as lock Andy Ballen took a 10 min rest following repeated infringements at the breakdown by the pack. Our 14 men stood resilient despite a prolonged period of defence on our own line and some scrambled clearances, however it proved to be one kick too many when an unfortunate miss cue from debutant Tom Walton saw the ball sail laterally across the field into the arms of Aylesford's winger who went over in the corner for their second try - the only blemish on what was a fine performance by the young scrum half in his first senior outing.
Thanet saw out the remainder of the sin bin period mostly in defence of increasing pressure from the home side who, despite their possession and territory were unable to register any further scores in the face of some abrasive defence.
With the game entering its final 20 minutes, more gaps began to open seeing some barnstorming carries from the likes of locks Kemp and Hood and the pressure soon told as Thanet were able to repeatedly set up a good platform of attack from within the Aylesford half.
The result was put to rest with 2 final scores both crafted in a similar fashion; sustained pressure by the pack giving the backs the opportunity to swing the ball wide to the space on the right wing, first for Jake Whittlesea after some fine interchange between the two centres created a 3v1 and lastly for Hougham's second try following some quick hands as Finneran and Whittlesea drew the last defenders and the latter put him into the corner.
The result capped a great performance for the 2ndXV which has taken its time to gel as a unit this season but it coming good in the end, playing simple rugby well.
Written by: Kris Finneran
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