Tough match on the Island
In their penultimate game of the season Folkestone finally got off to a good start to a match scoring 2 tries in the first quarter. The wind was behind them and they used it to great effect. The more knowing amongst their travelling support reckoned they needed at least a 3 try lead going into the second half and they were proved right as Sheppey staged a thrilling come back to level the score late in the second half. Chris Petley put the home team under immediate pressure with a perfect kick off which allowed Rob Hudson to get on the ball and start the attack. Minutes later and Folkestone were on the score-board with a super try started by Adam Tolman who put the home defence under pressure with a crafty kick over the defence. Sheppey struggled to clear the ball and when they did kick it clear the ball went straight to Seyhan Fell on the halfway line. He moved forward before making a switch pass to Ben Brooks coming in from his wing. They had cleverly changed the angle of attack and it caused mayhem. When he hits top gear Brooks dips his head like a young horse and when he dipped his head today we all knew he was going to score. He roared through the Sheppey defence from 30 metres out. Fell added the conversion. 0-7.
6 minutes later and the Stones went further ahead after a perfect line-out saw good ball to Richard Lama in the fly half position. Lama returned the ball to Tolman who put a teasing kick over the home defence. Half the Stones support turned away thinking he had made a mistake but by the time they faced the game they could see that the kick had caused Sheppey massive problems allowing Lama to get to the ball first and touch down. Fell added another conversion. 0-14.
And that was the score at the interval. Now, though, Sheppey had the wind pushing them forward and Folkestoneknew they were in for some hard work. Amazingly it was Folkestone who scored next. Tolman broke through Sheppey’s first line of defence passing the ball to Will Massey who took the ball further up the field before making a perfect offload to Ben Brooks who had already found 4th gear. Again his head dipped and he found blistering pace to claim his second try of the match. 0-19.
A few minutes later and Sheppey were back in the game when they forced a Folkestone turnover in the home 22. They powered up the left wing to score an impressive try which was converted. 7-19.
Folkestone then had 2 chances to win the match but poor decision-making and ball handling meant they were tossed away. And then from another Folkestone turnover Sheppey repeated the power drive up the pitch, this time on their right wing. 12-19.
It began to look that Folestone were about to self destruct as the home team and their support knew they had a good chance to win. They levelled from yet another Folkestone turnover in the home 22 and this time they chose the left wing route up the pitch for a converted try to draw level. 19-19.
Trying very hard to be neutral Sheppey deserved to earn a draw but I do think Folkestone threw it away. They butchered 2 scoring chances in the second half and that sort of thing has happened too many times in the second half of the season. Poor discipline has also been a major problem this season. Folkestone give away far too many penalties. Today they gave away 15 penalties to the home side’s 5. That's no criticism of today's referee, Mr Ward from Sussex. He was excellent. The penalty account against Folkestone simply isn’t good enough and only the players can sort it.
Man of the Match you ask? I thought props, Moose Murray and Paul Hodges put on great displays as they mastered the home front row. Behind them in the second row, Tim Naylor was very strong while at No.8 Charlie Williams was all over the pitch carrying the ball forward or harassing his opponents. Because of Nick Ford’s late withdrawal from the squad skipper, Richard Lama, took over the 10 shirt and played to his usual high standard. Playing at scrum half Adam Tolman has the confidence to try ”things” and has the flair to make those “things” count. It was good to see Ollie Brooks back in the team. He has the ability to brush away tackles and split defences. His brother, Ben scored 2 great tries demonstrating his searing pace. Sheppey couldn’t get near him. But today’s Top Dog was Charlie Williams. This young man is a real favourite with the supporters as he always puts in a huge amount of hard work. Off the pitch he’s a mellow easy-going youngster. On the pitch he’s a lion. He goes to University next season and will be missed by his team mates and the supporters.