FOLKESTONE UNDER 14'S TRIUMPH AT KENT 7'S TOURNAMENT
Report from Coach Jon Morton. Unknown photographer.
Sunday 28th April saw Folkestone host the annual County 7-a-side tournament, attended by 16 of the top under 14 teams from across Kent. Folkestone drew a tough group as they found themselves up against Old Elthamians, Beckenham and Gravesend. During the group stages Folkestone struggled to adapt to the 7's version of the game, and frequently missed tackles and failed to convert try scoring opportunities successfully. After an early start and 3 games Folkestone were bottom of their group and things were looking ominous as they were seeded in to the knock out stages of the plate tournament.
First up in the quarter finals Folkestone were to play a very strong Beccehamians side. Folkestone started brightly and scored an early try, but were soon in trouble as Edward "Woody" Faiers received a yellow card for a high tackle preventing a certain Beccehamians try. This is the first yellow card Folkestone have ever received, and was a shock to players and spectators alike. Down to 6 men, Folkestone battled bravely but were unable to cover all the space on the large pitch and Beccehamians scored three converted tries in quick succession. Folkestone spirits were lifted as Woody re-took to the field after his time in the bin, and despite some inconsistencies with the refereeing decisions were able to score a further two tries of their own, to make the score 21-21 as the final whistle blew. The game was to be determined by a drop-kick competition with 5 players from each side attempting a drop kick from 22 metres out. This is some ask for the your players, and only one kick out of the 10 was successful - as Folkestone's Enneico Farrant split the uprights to win the game and put Folkestone in to the semi finals.
Folkestone were moved across to pitch 3 for the semi final where they would play we well drilled side from Tonbridge Wells. Tonbridge Wells were certainly favourites before the game, but Folkestone really turned on the style as captain Gene Farragher urged his team to pile on the pressure in both defence and attack, allowing Folkestone to be 21-0 up at half time. Tonbridge Wells pushed back in the second half as Folkestone made some changes and scored a couple of unconverted tries, but the damage was already done and Folkestone had won the game.
Sevenoaks are possibly the strongest team in Kent in the 15-a-side version of the game, and so Folkestone were rightfully apprehensive of their chances in the final. This was not helped by an early Sevenoaks try as their speedster ran up the middle of the pitch to score. Folkestone however showed great character by fighting back to score a try either side of the break and the parents and coaches on the side line became very jubilant as the match went on. Sevenoaks had other plans though, and scored with just minutes to go, meaning the game was level at 14-14 as we entered the final play of the game. Neither side wanted this to be settled by drop goals, so they both went all out for the win, but it was Folkestone who showed both better fitness levels, and a stronger mental capacity as they worked hard to keep the ball alive, eventually getting the ball to speedster Joshua Perez, who sprinted around his man to score in the last play. Ryen Morton duly converted and the game was won - 21-14 to a relieved Folkestone side.
Next week Folkestone are off to play in a tournament hosted by premiership side Leicester Tigers in Minehead, Somerset, where they are hoping to retain their title from last year.
Squad: Gene Farragher (Captain), Ryen Morton, Edward Faiers, Sebastian Douse, Maddox Francis, Louis Douse, Joshua Perez, Max Jeffrey, Jared Hayes, Enneico Farrant, James Gillespie, George Foord