Another loss at home for Folkestone, although they defended zealously.
In only their third home game since last November Folkestone were again struggling to field a settled team and this week had to call on the services of Will Turner – who first played for the Club in the mid 1980’s.
FOLKESTONE 1stXV 14 THANET WANDERERS 1stXV 38
Saturday 27th January 2018 London 3SE Report by Alan Schofield.
In only their third home game since last November Folkestone were again struggling to field a settled team and this week had to call on the services of Will Turner – who first played for the Club in the mid 1980’s. The portents were ominous as Folkestone had lost heavily in their last outing and Thanet were the leading points scorers in the division, and league leaders.
On a ground made heavy by the week’s rain both teams were slowed down by the conditions, the Folkestone forwards did a magnificent job in not only holding the league leader’s pack of eight – but generally winning the battle. However, the Thanet backs were very well organised and talented – and it was this that proved to be the difference in the two teams at the final whistle.
Thanet went into to an early lead of 0 – 12 when they scored two tries within 9 minutes. Folkestone were pressed back from the kick off and defended their line well until one missed tackle allowed a touch down – and minutes later a fumbled ball collection presented a second opportunity to Thanet with a five-metre scrum and a good planned move from the base, even though being forced backwards.
Thanet were put to a fully stretched defence as Josh Holt, on the left wing, started a move from wing to wing, through Liam Trinder, John Eustace and Kyle Deakin, finding Jason Baker on the right wing, before being stopped short. And the large home crowd were on their toes again when Liam Trinder started another attacking move with Josh Holt and Kyle Deakin – and then finishing it with a dive for the line but just being forced into touch in goal before he could touch the ball down.
Folkestone had come back into the game after the early set-back and had the power in the scrums through Mat Roots and Jake Ellis and skills in the line-out with the Adam Bloomfield and Sam Beech combination. Callum Palmieri is growing in confidence with every match he plays – and although young and lightweight he presents problems for his opposite numbers both in attack and defence.
But Thanet showed their talents in the backs with some excellent combinations and inter-passing, often creating the extra man in the line that The Stones were struggling to cover. And they were quick onto the ball, and onto handling and kicking mistakes – too quick for the retreating Stones, as a third try was snapped up with a movement downfield finished off by the Thanet forwards with Folkestone straggled in defence. 0 -19.
John Eustace and Sam Beech showed they were prepared to run with the ball and Thomas Snare, with Scott Stewart were playing well and giving Thanet plenty of work to do. But handling mistakes gave Thanet pitch position and a five-metre scrum that Folkestone could not defend as another try was scored just before half time. 0 – 24.
The Stones started the second half with a wind advantage and immediately forced Thanet back to a scrum 25 metre out. This scrum was remarkable to see as Folkestone slowly, steadily and surely forced the Thanet forwards backwards, metre by metre until the try line was reached. Mat Roots then taking the ball and, with immense effort, powered over through a ten man defence for an exciting try that Seyhan Fell converted 7 – 24.
Folkestone brought on their substitute players with Connor Leather, James Archer and debutante Jack Shorter but there was no comeback after this bright start. The Thanet backs were proving to be a handful for the defence – they gave every appearance of a team of players that played regularly together and knew their training ground moves very well. Three more tries were run in towards the latter half of the game and The Stones were being forced into chasing the ball and players running with the ball. 7-38. And one of the problems for Folkestone is that they are spending more time as each game goes by as defeat follows defeat – with less and less of ball possession, more often being given away than earned by their opponents.
But hope and inspiration came from the forwards in the last five minutes as they proved their fitness and strength in a concerted attack on the Thanet line. Thanet did everything that the laws of the game said they should not do in resisting Adam Bloomfield, Thomas Snare, Mat Roots, Jake Ellis and David Jarvis whilst the pea in the referee’s whistle was getting hotter and hotter. Eventually the excellent referee Mr Michael Ellis stopped it all and gave Folkestone a well-deserved penalty try and seven points. 14-38.
Folkestone did not concede one penalty in the whole of the first half, and only two in the whole match (and just two in the previous week) This demonstrates they are playing good, clean rugby – and now it is hoped that this could transmitted to the same in handling and kicking.
Folkestone have descended precariously close to the relegation places in the league table. And, at the end of the game, as the light faded and the rain intensified their supporters stood cold and disconsolate in the knowledge that only in true misery one can find pure contentment.
Next week the team must travel the long, long distance to Lewes – but not without hope.
Team: Seyhan Fell; Josh Holt, Kyle Deakin, John Eustace (Capt.), Jason Baker; Will Turner, Callum Palmieri; Mat Roots, Adam Bloomfield, Thomas Snare; David Jarvis, Jake Ellis; Liam Trinder, Sam Beech, Scott Stewart.
Subs: Connor Leather, James Archer, Jack Shorter.
Scorers: Mat Roots 5; Seyhan Fell 2; Penalty Try 7.