Match Report – Canterbury Vs Vikings, 9th March 2024

03/10/20240

Canterbury 41 North Walsham Vikings 12

“Disappointing” was Niall Lear’s description of this scoreline, a reflection of the expectations the Vikings now have following the progress of recent months. Their first half performance and the 10 – 5 halftime score suggested this could be close, but three Canterbury tries in 10 minutes straight after the break gave them a mountain they couldn’t climb. In the November fixture Canterbury’s huge pack had dominated the second half; that was a factor here but not to the same extent, when perhaps the key differences between the sides were their respective abilities to grasp opportunities and sustain pressure.

The hosts controlled the early stages and it was no surprise when they went ahead in the eighth minute, Nathan Morris driven over from a five metre lineout; Frank Reynolds, the league’s leading points scorer, converted. Unperturbed the Vikings, with Henly Brightman, Jobe Brooks, Ewan Kingdon and Billy Tait prominent, began to spend time in their opponents’ territory, moving the ball about crisply, crossing the gain line, retaining possession through multiple phases. Imprecision though, particularly at the lineout, limited their progress. Dan Smith momentarily looked to be  through on the 22 but he was thwarted by an excellent tackle before midway through the half the Vikings got a well deserved try. The ball was shifted quickly on the Canterbury 22, Wes McQuire beat his man and found Connor Dudley inside who scored his seventh try of the season.

Five minutes later Canterbury extended their lead to five. Awarded a penalty on the 22 Reynolds tellingly went for the safe three points rather than the potential seven from a catch and drive. The rest of the half was fairly even, both spending time in the opposition 22 but the defences were sound. Close to halftime the Vikings nearly scored again: the influential Kingdon initiated a great move with an outstanding tackle and pulsating 30 metre run before Benji Hewitt was held up over the line. The half ended, the hosts just about deserving their lead, with the visitors losing their own lineout deep in Canterbury territory.

The opening stages of the second half were something of a horror show for the Vikings. They failed to deal with the kick off which ultimately led to a penalty: kick to the corner, Shay Kerry driven over. Canterbury attacked again immediately and, and after two successive penalties with them inching towards a pushover try, the referee awarded a penalty try and issued the first of two yellow cards suffered by the Vikings. Then the hosts came straight back from the kick off, some slick handling and slack defence finishing with second row Jesse De Vries bounding over from 20 metres; Reynolds converted, 29 – 5 with 27 minutes to go.

Briefly the play the stabilised before, with a quarter of the match remaining, Morris got his second and Canterbury’s third from a catch and drive; Reynolds converted. The Vikings though refused to give up, driving forward with Leo Langbridge and Tim Weber in the vanguard, but time and again good positions were lost. Ten minutes from time the hosts scored the best try of the match, Gary Jones crossing after a long range move. The game ended with a nicely worked Vikings try: after a scrum 40 metres out Smith broke though in trademark style and passed to Tawanda Kandemwa who outpaced the defence; Ross Magnus converted from the touchline.

“Disappointing, we made some silly mistakes and left too many points on the pitch,” commented Niall Lear. “In contrast Canterbury were clinical. We had some really good spells but can do so much better.” He named Jobe Brooks as Lacons Brewery Man of the Match, “phenomenal work rate, his tackling statistics will be very high.” Next week, league leaders Esher visit Scottow Park.

 

Team: 15. Benji Hewitt 14. Wes McGuire 13. Dan Smith 12. Ross Magnus

  1. Tawanda Kandemwa 10. Harry Langbridge 9. Connor Dudley 1. Tim Weber 2. Ewan Kingdon 3. Henly Brightman 4. Hudson de Lucchi 5. Ethan Holmwood 6. Leo Langbridge 7. Jobe Brooks 8. Billy Tait

 

Interchanges:

Harry Steward/ McQuire (55 mins)

Callum Howe/ Brightman (59 mins)

Danny Whittred/ Holmwood (63 mins)

Alfie Coop/ Harry Langbridge (65 mins)

Russell Arnold/ Kingdon (70 mins)

Scorers:

      Tries: Dudley; Kandemwa

Conversions: Magnus

Penalties:

Yellow Cards: Weber; Magnus

Red Cards:

Referee: Peter Caunt

Paul Morse

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