Folkestone hang on in the last 10 minutes to post a win.
It was in the 2010/2011 season that Folkestone last played Crawley – then notching up two wins. And this game produced the third win in a row in the League.
CRAWLEY 1stXV 26 FOLKESTONE 1stXV 29
Saturday 25th November 2017. London 3 SE Report by Alan Schofield.
It was in the 2010/2011 season that Folkestone last played Crawley – then notching up two wins. And this game produced the third win in a row both against Crawley and in the league, having the effect of lifting The Stones from their nervous antepenultimate position towards the middle of the table.
James Mead and Ben Brooks made a welcome comeback to the team, but yet another reshuffled line-up gave The Stones a new appearance as a team. They faced the kick off facing a low sun on a very cold day and immediately went into action with Scott Stewart breaking through the middle and passing left to Ben Brooks who ran strong, fast and straight to score within two minutes supplemented by an excellent touchline conversion from Guy Carney. 0-7.
Folkestone were running and passing well with Jack Brooks making meterage down the centre but a long penalty kick gave Crawley a 5 metre line out from which they forced their way over to the equal the score at 7 – 7. This score seemed to inspire the home team as they came back to force Folkestone into a period of defence for 10 minutes of tough play. But it was encouraging to see the solid wall of put up against a team that so far had belied their league position. Tom Snare and the young hooker, Connor Leather, were strong and active in the rucks and mauls causing two forceful attacks to halt. It was Sam Beech who eventually broke the stranglehold with a deliberate fly kick into space, and James Mead saw the opportunity before his opponents saw the danger and, with Guy Carney and Jack Brooks in attendance their running and inter-passing took play 75 metres to score a try. 7 – 12.
Folkestone had had a bright start – as had Crawley – and the game had all the portents of an exciting encounter, full of good passing rugby. But a cloud came over the sky- and the game - as errors started to appear. Crawley had the knack of stealing the ball from the hands of their opponents and within minutes had successfully done this twice, the second time releasing the left wing to run through three failed tackle attempts for an equalising score at 12 – 12 and half time.
As at the start, Folkestone began the second half brightly with a run from Thomas Snare then with Jack Brooks, David Jarvis, John Eustace and Sam Beech forcing play to the 5 metre zone – when up popped Ben Brooks to take the ball, find a narrow gap and scored from a diving touch down. 12 – 17. Another promising foray featuring Scott Stewart and Connor Leather came to nought when the ball was dropped. A succession of handling and passing mistakes by both sides, stultified play and scrum followed scrum. Passes were missed, kicks went astray and any game plan that might have existed was reduced to a centre-field confusion of scrums, rucks and mauls and referee’s whistling.
Second half substitutions saw Colby Hayward, Liam Trinder and Bob Porter come on to play as Alex Green, Conor Guilfoyle and Scott Stewart were rested.
The Stones briefly shook themselves out of the hole they were in as a lovely passing movement started with a scrum in their own half saw Callum Palmieri pass to Thomo Murray thence to Guy Carney who drew his opponent before slipping it to Jack Brooks to run in for the fourth (and bonus point) try from 20 metres with an easy conversion for Guy Carney, the score now showed 12 – 24. But not for long.
Crawley worked their way back and The Stones were put to defending in their own 22 metre area – and although winning the ball in loose play three times, inexplicably failed to kick it clear, and they paid the penalty when Crawley stole the ball and swung it out left for the winger who ran through several nugatory tackle attempts to run round and touch down under the posts to bring the score within reach at 19 – 24.
It could easily have been worse as missed tackles released two of the Crawley fastest backs with only James Mead in defence but he made a try saving tackle before help arrived and the situation was recovered. The mistakes were far from all being Folkestone’s as Crawley made a mess of a ruck as Callum Palmieri tidied things up with a short run and pass to Guy Carney who found touch with a long kick. Then The Stones set up an attack through the middle with forceful runs from Sam Leather and John Eustace before Jack Brooks grasped the ball and forced through over the line for Folkestone’s fifth try. With the conversion narrowly missing, it took the score to 19 – 29 with 20 minutes to play.
With Crawley now having to score twice to win, instead of bottling up the game with possession, the Stones started to try to play risky and adventurous rugby and it failed. Mistakes let Crawley in down the left wing, although there was more than a hint of a forward pass in the movement, another run round try under the posts was converted to bring the margin to just three points with 10 minutes to play. 26-29.
The Stones held out, just! Crawley had two great opportunities to score the winning try but desperate defending saved the day and it was only in stoppage time, and with the advantage of a long penalty kick, that Folkestone managed to find their way into the Crawley 10 metre area and retain possession until the final whistle.
It was a game that, after a good start from Folkestone, a total of 55 points was amassed – and that probably equalled the number of mistakes in play by both teams. Nevertheless a win is a win, and the five points gained were gratefully taken.
Team: James Mead, Ben Brooks, John Eustace (Capt.), Jack Brooks, Thomo Murray; Guy Carney, Callum Palmieri; Alex Green, Connor Leather, Thomas Snare; Conor Guilfoyle, David Jarvis; Sam Beech, Scott Stewart, Jordan Godden.
Subs: Colby Hayward, Bob Porter, Liam Trinder.
Scorers: Ben Brooks 5, 5; Guy Carney 2, 2; James Mead 5; Jack Brooks 5, 5.