OUR first home game since January 15 saw us welcome Canterbury to the rugby ground on Saturday.
Canterbury have been having a tough time recently, culminating in the loss to Newbury last Saturday. Despite this, we have had some tough encounters with the city side over the years and were expecting nothing less this week.
The side had a few changes. Mike Marsh started on the wing, Sam Hewick came into the back row, Pete Cleveland at hooker and Oli Luke started at fly-half, which meant myself, Duddles, Mickey, Raynn and Jonny Michael kept the bench warm.
We had spoken all week about the importance of backing up last week’s good performance with another win, especially in front of the home support.
It didn’t take long for us to break down the Canterbury defence, Matt McLean crashing over after eight minutes to register our first points of the day. This was the start of a free-scoring half for us and we effectively ended the game as a competition inside the first 16 minutes.
We were playing the game with pace, retaining the ball well and building the phases. The forwards were creating a platform for the backs to run riot and then running great support lines.
The result was a 38-7 half-time lead. Although we spoke at half-time about not relaxing and to continue playing the way we had in the first half, we didn’t come out with the same mindset. We did score first when Sam got his third try and then replacement Jonny Michael went over – but we had visibly eased off and slowly Canterbury started to get themselves into the game a little more.
Through a combination of poor defence, trying to force the pass and also playing too much rugby in our own half, we allowed Canterbury to score the four-try bonus point. This was bitterly disappointing and did take the gloss off a fine team performance.
I’m sure it will be something we work on in training. We did get the last word when man-of-the match Charlie McGowan bundled his way over in the last play of the game. There were many good perf-ormances this week but Oli Luke starting his first game at fly-half, Charlie, and Sam Hewick, who scored a hat trick, all stood out.
Other results this week saw wins for Ealing, OAs, Lydney, Shelford, Henley, Southend and Jersey, who beat Richmond in the battle for second place.
This week, we are back on the road and make the journey to Bristol to face Dings Crusaders. This is always a tough physical encounter and one where we would appreciate as much support as possible.