Poor defence gave Pulborough an easy win with their free running backs scoring at will.
On a day that suited kitesurfing rather than rugby there was a cold and penetrating wind blowing directly downfield and Pulborough took full advantage of this after winning the toss.
PULBOROUGH 1stXV. 54 FOLKESTONE 1stXV. 26
Saturday 25th. March 2017. London 3 south East Report by Alan Schofield.
The first fixture that Folkestone have had to play without the steadfast encouragement of John Kidson is an experience we never wished to happen. His memory will be with the Club for a hundred years or more and in our mind’s eyes his stentorian shouts of support will always echo from the visiting touchline or the home balcony where his place was so firmly established.
Folkestone having beaten Pulborough convincingly earlier in the season are guaranteed a top five place in a very competitive contest for the leading positions in the Division. ’Borough, in top position, had promotion almost guaranteed before this match and a win would secure that situation. And a win they gained with a running performance against a shuffled Folkestone team with five new players, including 55 year old Bob Porter
, and nine positional changes from their previous fixture.
On a day that suited kitesurfing rather than rugby there was a cold and penetrating wind blowing directly downfield and Pulborough took full advantage of this after winning the toss. Within 6 minutes they had scored two tries breaking through the centre field twice with hardly a hand being laid on them. After some powerful defensive performances in recent matches it was disappointing for the small contingent of Folkestone supporters to see the ease with how this happened. 12-0.
The tactics for Folkestone were clear in that in was not a day for their usual practice of fast open rugby. Their forwards gave some promise that things were not as bad in that department by a series of pick and runs – keeping possession and gaining ground all the time and looking good and capable in doing so. Pulborough were forced back by this tactic into their own 5 metre zone when Alex Deakin picked up from the base of a ruck, threw a dummy pass, and broke through to score near to the posts, Seyhan Fell
converted and the score was 12 – 7.
To add to the Stone’s woes, Ross Dempsey
dislocated a finger but carried on after attention by the ever efficient team physio - Ashlea Fry, and Jon Morton
’s shoulder and groin injuries were hampering his performance. Pulborough went further ahead with a penalty kick but it was becoming apparent that ‘Borough’s strength lay in their backs, but Folkestone had the better of them in the forwards. ‘Jiggles’ Ellis and Chris Petley
were gaining ground from loose and set pieces and it all looked fairly secure in that department. After nearly 30 minutes of play with the score at 15 – 7
, thoughts were directed towards the second half as the wind was a massive factor. But – Oh dear! Pulborough gained possession and a long kick was followed up for the third touch-down and very soon afterwards the bonus point fourth try was gifted to them when a long, slow looping pass by Folkestone was easily intercepted giving an unopposed run in from 65 metres for a half time score of 27 – 7.
Conceding a lead of 18 points and considering the playing conditions, Folkestone were not out of this game as coach Leigh Fitchie brought on Adam Tolman
and Kieran Smith
to replace Alex Deakin and Jack Barton
, both who had enjoyed excellent performances in the front line. But in an almost exact replica of the start of the first half Pulborough ran in two tries in the first 5 minutes of the half – both of them by running straight through the Folkestone three-quarter line as though it didn’t exist. Now the score was 35 – 7
and hope was lost.
However, the game pattern resumed with the Folkestone pack very active. No-one passed Ben Stringer
and James Archer
, whilst Cameron Dallas
and Alex Box
were a constant annoyance to their opponents – forcing penalties and gaining ground. Keeping the ball close, a short pass from Adam Tolman
gave Jon Morton
the chance to get the ball away to James Mead
who ran on to score with a diving stretch to make the line. Seyhan Fell
added to the score with a conversion. 35 – 14.
But it was not long before Pulborough struck back with yet another try when three tackles were shimmied through the centre field, but they were caught unawares when their confident and cavalier backs were intercepted by John Eustace
who trotted over, unopposed, from 60 metres. Unfortunately he did not allow any time before attempting to convert his own try with a drop-kick, only succeeding to squirt the ball under the cross bar. 40 – 19.
Soon to be 45 – 19
with another try scored by the simple manoeuvre of passing and running through a hapless defence.
But Adam Tolman
, ever sprightly at scrum half gained some consolation for his forwards as after a succession of close quarter movements, gaining 40 metres downfield, and with the momentum, had the home defence confused and off balance as he jinked through for Folkestone’s fourth, and bonus point try. 45-26.
The pattern of the game had been firmly established since the opening minutes – but all credit to the Folkestone forwards who had the clear edge throughout. Unfortunately the backs were disorganised and outclassed allowing, in the final moments of the game, Pulborough’s ninth try - every one of which had come from their backs. 54 – 26.
Friendly and pleasant people of Pulborough they may be, but Folkestone will not be sorry to see them promoted - for the distance the teams have to travel for this fixture is the equivalent to a trip from Pulborough to Swansea. Fortunately all the teams with probability of relegation into this division next season are considerably nearer than Pulborough. It is, nevertheless, grim that the organisation of the league should ask amateur Clubs to travel these long distances with or without financial support - and in this league it is without.
Team: Seyhan Fell
; Josh Holt
, Ross Dempsey
, John Eustace
, James Mead
; Jon Morton
(Capt.), Kyle Deakin
, Jake Ellis
, Chris Petley
, Cameron Dallas
; Jack Barton
, Ben Stringer
; Bob Porter
, Alex Box
, James Archer
Subs: Adam Tolman
, Kieran Smith
(both at 40 mins)
Scorers: Kyle Deakin
5; Seyhan Fell
2, 2, 2; James Mead
5; John Eustace
5; Adam Tolman