January 14th Round Up
January 16th 2023
With the rain coming down but giving way to a brighter day, the 1st XV took to the Mote to face an impressive Dover side sitting in 3rd. Having been comfortably beaten by them in the reverse fixture, there was a feeling around the ground that a better performance was expected, but not necessarily a win.
Within the first five minutes a penalty to Maidstone meant that we had a slender lead with (only!) 75 minutes left to play as Lex Delamere-Ayling sent the ball true through the uprights. What ensued was a very close contest, as Maidstone's line speed stiffled the visitors, but that was also counteracted by their number 8 making ground and offloading. At the break, the game was poised 3 a piece.
In the second half our lads stepped up their defensive game to restrict their troublesome 8 Jack Ayling (no relation) as well as make chances of their own. Man of the Match Oliver Jenkins eventually found some space, after some slick backs play and just about managed to gain enough downward pressure on the ball to score a much needed Try. He could have added to his tally in the first half after a superb footrace, but the covering defender went unseen as he just managed to snipe Oliver before he could gather the ball for what must surely have been a brace. The game remained closely contested and with five minutes to go, it appeared disaster had struck once more as Dover were awarded a penalty 26 metres out and slightly to the right. As the ball was kicked, it was like a movie as the ball sailed in slow motion towards the gaping hole in between the uprights and the only sounds were the gathering wind and your own heartbeat! Then, that was broken by another sound of chinking metal, as the attempt had struck the left hand post. If that wasn't enough to age you, in the final minutes Dover had a further three more shots, all in vain and thankfully for the hosts the final whistle came to signal a well desevered and hard fought victory.
Credit to Dover who in true rugby spirit were gracious in the narrow defeat. It truly was a close fought game where the better side just nicked the points, but Dover are a fantastic outfit and their position in the table well deserved.
The Mustangs had their game called off with Tunbridge Wells just hours before kick-off as a pitch inspection confirmed the fears on Friday night that the pitch was indeed waterlogged. All of their home games were called off, with the exception of the 1st XV that managed to find a slot on a 4G pitch. The game is now pencilled in for April 15th.
For the Veterans, they ran out onto the bottom pitch to play Tonbridge Juddians IV which included some young legs in the backs. Always a bad sign! What transpired was a hard fought game which was a great watch, as the Veterans showed that they still have the class and poise they have had all their playing lives. Alas, the legs do tend to desert us though and the youngsters made the difference in a watchable 15 - 5 defeat.
Onwards we go then. The 1st XV are back on the road this Saturday as they take on Gillingham Anchorians on their Paddock, whilst the Veterans have a friendly planned at home to Cinque Ports. The Mustangs will take a rest weekend as they look ahead to a stacked run-in as they aim for a top four finish in the league.