by Cliff Watson
A cold but sunny day greeted both teams. With both teams suitably warmed up from the coaching sessions.
Folkestone started with Nat opting for a low grubber kick looking to catch out the Bulls. This was cleanly picked up and from the start they made ground through the midfield, played in part by several missed tackles from Stones. A couple of quick passes out to the right wing and the Bulls had the first try in the corner.
The restart was then taken at height this time, again carried up the centre, however some good tackling provided a knock on and allowed Stones to clear into touch at half way. A steal from the line out gave stones the chance to run at the retreating defence, with some good quick passing through the hands to Percil in the centre, breaking at least three tackles, carved the Bulls defence through the centre to score. A try a piece, game on.
Stones were put under pressure from the kick off and had to make a hasty clearance from the boot, unfortunately touch wasn’t found and Stones were again under pressure. Some strong tackling gave Stones a break with a Bulls knock on. The resulting scrum gave Mia the put in and the forwards did the rest driving the Bulls back allowing Mia giving quick ball to the right. With no forward support the ball was lost in the ruck and with the Bulls quick to recycle they were again running at the Stones defence. This time the forwards were waiting and the tackles were flying in, resulting in a penalty to Stones for handing off. Ball again out to Percil and he was off and charging, making good ground just as the half time whistle blew.
The second half saw the coaches making several changes (squad of 21), with a Bulls kick off. Mia securing and out to the right for Danny to bulldoze up the centre, no support again allowing the ball to be ripped away and out to their centre. An unchallenged run to the touch line, two tries to one.
From the restart the Bulls were now using the width of the pitch and Stones were further punished with a third try after too many missed tackles. Something needed to spark life into the team and Tom Morley chasing the restart looked to put some fire into the game. Again a lack of support allowed Bulls to secure the ball. Some good tacking from the forwards saw Bulls handing off and with a quick penalty from Mia, saw her cutting through several attempted tackles but again isolated from the support of the forwards.
The game was tight with both sides desperate to score next. A clearing kick from Bulls gave Stones a line out on their own 5m line. Zi secured under pressure but was held on the wrong side allowing the Bulls to rip and attempt to drive for the line. Stones forwards now drove back forcing the Bulls into touch. From the line out Tom Morley made some good ground but with support slow again he was isolated. This was the last phase of play and the Bulls ran out 3 to 1 winners. Overall it was a sterling performance marred by slow support play and too many missed tackles.
Folkestone Vs Cranbrook
With something to prove now the Stones took to the field with a rotation of the squad. From the restart Stones went for it, winning a scrum and the ball flying through hands to the left wing. A rush Cranbrook defence saw possession lost and the winger running the corner to score. First try to Cranbrook.
The restart saw Nat putting a high ball at the fullback, who made some good yards aided by several missed tackles. Stones managed to stop him yard short of the try line and Percil ripped the ball passing to Tom C who gave to Nat out on the wing. Again there was no support and the ball was lost. Cranbrook now made Stones pay for the error and had the ball going through the hands at pace with players running onto it. Stones regrouped and managed to halt the attack 5m from the line.
Stones were awarded a scrum and some quick thinking from Simon allowed Nat to punch through and equal the score on the half time whistle.
The second half saw changes and Cranbrook put the ball straight into touch from the restart. The line out was secured by Danny, who charged up the left, ball recycled to Ben, who attempted to put the ball behind the fullback. This was charged down giving Cranbrook the momentum to use the width of the pitch and score their second.
The restart saw Nat charging down his own kick, forcing a knock on from the Cranbrook winger. The scrum was good with the ball reaching Louis who made some valuable yards up the centre. Stones were now keeping good possession, Ben bringing Nat into play on the left wing. Stones now began to ruck and had a good passage of play, with the ball going left to right. Robert was now in on the action but was out numbered on the wing and Cranbrook stealing at the breakdown. Quick ball along the line saw the winger hitting the corner for another. Three tries to one.
Another spirited performance from Stones with some committed play from all the squad.