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Kent Veterans Finals Day 2023
April 17th 2023
An overcast day quickly gave way to bright sunshine at The Mote for this years Kent Veterans Finals sponsored by Shepherd Neame. First up we had the Shield Final contested between Gravesend and Medway, kicking off the feast of rugby. It was the former that took the game by the scruff of the neck and took an early lead, which they never surrendered. Despite both teams playing some fantastic rugby, Gravesend just seemed to have more power in breaking the gain line, which gave them the momentum to continuously ask questions of the Medway defence. By the finish, Gravesend had utilized the breeze to good effect, taking this year's shield 45 - 15.
Next up was the Bowl Final for a game of two halves between Old Gravesendians & Thanet Wanderers. Before the ball was kicked, a minute's silence was observed for Thanet stalwart, Neil Armstrong. A skilled administrator both on and off the field, Neil is remembered as a smashing man, who always had a nice thing to say, no matter how well you played on the pitch. In the first half it was Thanet that started the brighter, running in two unanswered Tries, but the single conversion would prove costly. After the break the OG's began finding inroads with some great combination play on the right flank. Eventually, the Thanet defence was penetrated with a converted Try by Martyn Langley beginning the momentum shift. As is the way in sport, triumph & disaster is usually the width of a line and even though OG's were short of the Tryline, the tackle and subsequent play was deemed illegal & enough to award a penalty Try for Old Gravesendians to rip the Bowl from Thanet's grasp to win 14 -12. At the trophy presentation, OG's were presented the award by Shepherd Neame representative on the day Dougie Dick, before the traditional rendition of Suspicious Minds by the popular 'Elvis'.
Onto the highly anticipated final as reigning Champions Westcombe Park, who have never lost a final that they have been part of (1 Plate 3 Cups) took on an impressive Lordswood side that stepped up into the Cup bracket after a dominate display last season in the Bowl tier. Despite the power of Lordswood, the hands of Park proved an effective spoil, as the offloading game before the tackle repeatedly stretched the Beserkers line. Going down to 14 men after the sin bin of the Lordswood scrum-half, which lead to a penalty reversal, swung the pendulum in the first half to the reigning champions that took a 17 - 0 lead at the break. At the restart Lordswood struck first as they looked to fight back, installing grunt and added fight in the middle of the park. Fatigue appeared to take its toll, as every time it looked as if Lordswood were in the ascendancy, an error would inevitably lead to a punishment by score from Westcombe Park. The game eventually ended 36 - 19 to reigning and defending champions. That's four in a row now, and they don't look like they want to give the Cup up anytime soon.
Our thanks for the day goes to the sponsors Shepherd Neame & Bells Power for providing overall support and power respectively for the day.
Rob Howard for the sound system and announcing, as well as the copious volunteers and staff tirelessly working hard all week long. The referee team for the day of which games cannot be played without & Kent Rugby themselves.
A special thanks to Richard Ewence who works so hard throughout the season, ensuring that Veterans rugby stays strong within the county as we see so many players leaving the game.
Here's to next season.
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