On a very cold and foggy morning the Under 11s travelled to Medway RFC to compete in the Kent Festival Prelims to try to qualify for the Finals at Tonbridge next month. Here is what unfolded according to a frozen Lester Clark...
Folkestone Under 11s
By Lester Clark
FOLKESTONE 0 MAIDSTONE 4
A tough opening fixture saw Folkestone up against a big Maidstone pack and a well drilled back line who seemed to adjust to losing an hours sleep better than their opponents. The first two scrums were quite even, but as the game advanced it was clear that the large Maidstone pack would have a huge impact on what was a forwards dominated game. Two first half tries were attributed to missed tackles by Folkestone as the large Maidstone tight head prop crashed over early on. The second half saw much of the same and resulted in two more tries for the opposition. This was a disappointing result for THE STONES who entered the Festival on a high after lifting the shield Trophy at the Ashford Festival two weeks earlier.
FOLKESTONE 0 SIDCUP 5
Another hard game followed almost immediately and after a chat by the coaches THE STONES took to the field with purpose however things didn't go to plan as another big opposition pack dominated proceedings which enabled a very organized back line to have good possession which they used to full effect by scoring two excellent tries in quick succession early on. THE STONES tackling was not to their usual standard and as a consequence a try by the dominant Sidcup hooker saw a 3-0 deficit at half time. The second half saw much of the same however there were glimpses of the real STONES beginning to appear, notably some big tackles from Danny Gilligan and Nat Parmenter. Unfortunately two more tries were added by the Sidcup centres, one of these incorrectly given as it was Folkestone who touched down behind their try line and not Sidcup. THE STONES never lost heart and heads were held high as the final whistle was blown for a 5-0 defeat.
FOLKESTONE 3 SITTINGBOURNE 1
After a frank discussion and rousing team talk from THE STONES "experienced" coaching team THE STONES took to the pitch knowing that only a victory against old rivals Sittingbourne would see the opportunity of staying in the competition. From the very first kick of the game it was obvious that the pack was fired up for the game. However it was Sittingbourne who made the first break through with some fine ball handling by their forwards. After 5 mins THE STONES forwards stole possession 10 Metres from the Sittingbourne try line and Persil took the ball on the run to crash through 3 tackles and place the ball down for a fine try. What a difference confidence makes, tackles were made and the largely redundant backs of the first two games started to get quality ball to run with. However it was the powerful running once again of Persil that put THE STONES 2-1 up as he tore through the heart of the Sittingbourne defence to place the ball down to make it 2-1 at half time. The second half saw excellent back play as THE STONES used the considerable downward slope to apply constant pressure through the backs. After a succession of back moves which saw Sittingbourne defend heroically Mia receive the ball from a solid scrum and run the 7 Metres to the try line to make it 3-1. As the clock ticked down THE STONES never looked like relinquishing the lead and at the final whistle the 3-1 score line was a true reflection of the game.
FOLKESTONE 3- DOVER 1
And so to the play-off game that would decide who progressed to finals day at Tonbridge in April. The opposition was Dover who had made the long journey up to Medway early that morning like Folkestone on a bitterly cold day. Both sets of coaches agreed to get the game started as soon as possible so the coaches had a quick rousing team talk and it straight into the game. THE STONES started well showing no signs of fatigue and playing quality rugby from the off. This was best rugby THE STONES had played all day and a pleasure for the freezing supporters to watch. Powerful forward play in the first 5 mins lead to Tom Morley who showed quick thinking after winning a Dover lineout to spot a gap in the Dover defence and crash through to make it 1-0. Both teams were a credit to their coaches the tackling and handling skills of both teams was excellent. The decisive score came just before the half time whistle as a flowing move from some excellent rucking and 5 good offloads in the tackle gave Persil the chance to touch down for a fine team try. Dover continued to play some good rugby and were rewarded for some good passing play with a try on half time making for an exciting second half. THE STONES took the second half by the scruff of the neck and threw the ball around with some skill knowing that the pack were in full control. The fine play was rewarded with an excellent break away try for James Boakes who after being put into space by Nat evaded two tackles and score a fine try. Final score 3-1. Both teams played a very hard game with a very good attitude and excellent sportsmanship which is a credit to the coaches who never lose sight of the importance of this side of the game at these two rival clubs
Squad: James B, Maia, Simon, James H, Percil, Nat, Harry, Ben, Louis, Tom C, Ollie, Danny, Will G, Sumeet, Zi, Poppy, Robert, Tom M