The 3rd XV Beat the League Leaders in a Thrilling Game
The Lions 3rd XV took on league Leaders Zingari AKA Canterbury 5th's at the Drill Field on Saturday in what turned out to be a thrilling game
It was clear from before the kick off that Canterbury were going to adopt an expansive game with their young back line and especially with the conditions being fair and firm under foot which would suit a running game.
It was Canterbury who would take the early lead. With the Lions kicking off the Zingari were quick to put their game plan into action. With only a couple of phases through the forwards the ball was spun out to the backs who used their pace to gain significant ground. the Lions scramble defence was caught napping and not being able to make first up tackles the Canterbury attack got over the gain line on repeated occasions which accumulated in their winger scoring their first try. The try was converted for a 7-0 lead.
This was a wake up call to the Lions and a warning sign in that the Zingari could do a lot of damage and would be able to put a lot of points on the on the board if they were allowed the freedom of playing quick attacking rugby. The Zingari had a back line with pace and looked dangerous with ball in hand.The Lions started to get into their stride and with straight attacking rugby, were able to get a number of phases together adopting pick and drives by their forwards, taking their counterparts head on. The Lions first points came from a penalty when a Canterbury defender was penalised from entering a ruck from the side. Scrum half Kirk Williamson taking the points. 7-3 to Canterbury.
Both teams were in full swing now and the Zingari continued with their game plan in shipping the ball out wide at the earliest opportunity to their backs. This was continuing to be effective and with continued success Canterbury scored again out wide. The difficult conversion was missed . 12-3
This was definitely panning out to be a “seesaw” game with end to end Rugby. The Lions were next to score. With the ball recycled after a ruck deep in the visitors half Williamson went on the attack and evading a couple of tackles continued his run and managed to get over the line dragging two of the covering defenders with him. He converted his own try 12-10. to the Zingari.
One area where the Lions were in total ascendancy was at scrum time. The Lions pack putting in a good afternoon shift and driving their opponents back on numerous occasions on their own put on and winning a number of scrums against the head. It was one of these occasions that gave the Lions their next points and the lead for the first time. Winning a scrum close to their opponents 5 metre line the ball was hooked cleanly and secured at the back of the scrum by Number 8 Dave Rose. The Lions got the shove on and drove their opponents back with military precision. The Canterbury pack could not do anything to halt the advancing Lions 8 and with the scrum passing the Zingari’s try line Dave Rose dotted the ball down just right of the posts . Williamson taking the easy conversion. 17-12 to the Lions.
Canterbury were next on the score sheet. After securing the ball from a maul position the ball was once again moved out wide . A dog leg in the Lions defensive line created gaps for their pacey back line to carve a path through and their winger went over. The conversion was taken by their number 10 and once more restored the lead to Canterbury.19- 17 .
Canterbury went further in the lead with another converted try.26 -17.
One area of the Lions play that wasn’t being effective was the line out. All though the Lions gained repeated territory after kicking into touch from being awarded penalties the Lions could not secure clean ball which was the combination of not catching cleanly or disruption and stealing by the Canterbury jumper. The Lions were next on the score sheet with a try by Centre Mitch Halpin. With a number of pick and go’s the Lions forwards drove the ball up field before Williamson spun the ball out to Mitch who barraged his way over wide. The conversion was just wide of the post 26-22 to Canterbury.
As the game neared the half time break the Lions lost Jason Clarke to the Bin. After awarding a scrum to Canterbury the ref’s decisions was “strongly ” disputed which resulted in a penalty being awarded to Canterbury. Canterbury took a quick tap but the Lions did not retreat 10 metres before Clarke made a tackle that was also adjudged to be high. It’s safe to say there was only going to be one outcome and even before the referee showed the card Jason was making his way off the pitch. The Lions defence held out to the break with the score remaining at 26 -22 to Canterbury.
The team Lions team talk at half time was constructive. It was clear that the home side were allowing Canterbury two much time on the ball and our defensive line was not coming up flat on occasions so the message was clear…. a straighter defensive line and getting up into the oppositions faces quicker.
The second half kicked off with a sense of déjà vu for the Lions. They were caught napping again and conceded another try early on. Fortunately due to the line of their attack the Zingari’s tries were being scored out wide making conversions that more difficult which on this occasion was missed 31-22 to Canterbury.
With 4 minutes of the half played the Lions were restored to the full complement with Clarke returning to the field of battle. The Zingari made it vocal that they thought they had the measure of the Lions at this point assuming that their younger backs had the fitness to overthrow the Lions. If it wasn’t through a couple of missed passes this may have been true as the Zingari threw away clear opportunities to score a couple of more tries.
The dominance in the scrum continued. Dave Rose at number 8 was linking well with scrum half Williamson . On a number of occasions Dave picked up from the base of the scrum and managed to evade the Zingari flankers making ground before offloading to Kirk to make further ground and put the opposition on the back foot. On further occasions penalties were awarded when the Canterbury flankers were adjudged to breaking their bind two earlier in attempt to disrupt the Lions attack from the scrum .
Matt Mackay was directing the play well at 10 combining well with his centres to get the Lions on the front attacking foot.
What was to follow was a good spell for the Lions The next to score was Jason Clarke, going over the whitewash after a wave of attacks. Converted by Williamson. 31- 29 to Canterbury.
The resulting restart was notable for one reason. On receiving the ball from the kick the Zingari second row caught the ball cleanly but then it was assumed he didn’t know what hit him. The Lions could of told him as 14 of the Lions saw Dave “Exocet missile” Rose flatten the player with a text book timed crunching midriff tackle with the ball spilling out for a knock on.
The Lions were to add another try when Kirk Williamson went over for his second try of the afternoon along with him taking the conversion. 36-31 to the Lions.
The Lions were growing in confidence as the half continued, playing the game the best way they knew how…straight attacking simple rugby. Kirk added another try taking his tally to three for the afternoon. Williamson taking the conversion 43-31.
The Lions could see daylight now with the Zingari needing more than a converted try. Canterbury did not want to lie down which is to their credit. They did pull a try back. The conversion missed 43-36.
The last Lions last try came from another scrum close the opposition 5 metre line. It was obvious that the Lions pack wanted to crown off their afternoon with another pushover try. This went to plan as far as the ball being hooked back to No 8 Rose. The tight 5 then got the shove on and the momentum was with the Lions. What then followed caught the Lions pack by surprise. Akin to Moses parting the red see the Canterbury tight five appeared to disappear and such was the acceleration of the drive left Dave Rose looking at the ball behind him. Fortunately Kirk was on hand to gather the ball and being that close to the line it was simple pickings for him to get his fourth try of the afternoon. 50-36.
Canterbury managed to get another unconverted try to take the score to 50-41 but the damage had been done. The Lions saw out the remaining minutes with some try saving tackling for a great victory.
This was a tremendous performance by the Lions. Each player did their job and credit must go to a number of new faces who applied themselves amicably, some of which were playing their 1st senior game of rugby. No doubt this was also a thrilling game to spectate on with the lead changing hands on numerous occasions.
This takes Deal and Betteshanger Lions III’s to fourth Place in the League with only six points separating them from 1st place Whistable II’s. This puts us right in the mix and makes for an interesting run up to the end of the season. Next up is Dover IV in two weeks time.
It safe to say as Author of this Report and the fact one played in the game at second row some of the events may not be in Chronological order and some poetic licence may have been applied. Further more there appears to be a difference in the scores as the Kent RFU website shows us scoring 49 points instead of 50 but who's counting !!! Rest assured one thing is correct….The Lions won and beat the league leaders which at the end of day is what was discussed in the bar afterwards over a well deserved pint or two or in David Rose's case a few more as it was his Birthday … Roar
3rd XV Second Row
Reporting from the Lions Den