Kent Salver Final v Footscray RFC

Anchs finished the season on a high, with a narrow victory in the Kent Salver final against Kent League 2 runners-up, Footscray. However, things did not start so well on a cold and windy Sunday morning in Footscray. Playing into the wind in the first half, the home side dominated the set pieces and won a good supply of ball, but fortunately for the visitors, kicked most of it away. When they did keep the ball in hand they looked more dangerous and on one occasion broke the Anchs line, only for Jon Mann to put in an excellent covering tackle to keep the game scoreless. Eventually, however, the pressure paid off and Footscray took the lead with a pushover try under the Anchs posts, which was duly converted for a 7 – 0 lead. Anchs seemed to wake up and hit back with their running game proving too much for the Footscray defence. After a period on attack, Jon Mann finished off a sweeping move in the corner, converted from out wide by Dom Saunders to level the scores at 7-all.

The rest of the half was a very stop-start affair with the referee, aided by his touch judges, penalising both sides heavily. The scrappy nature of the game definitely played into Footscray’s hands and they retook the lead with a simple blind side move from a lineout, resulting in a try that went unconverted. Poor Anchs defence let Footscray in again before half time, to give the home side a 19 – 7 lead at the interval.

Anchs had only shown their superiority in patches in the first half, but turned around to face the elements and a confident Footscray side in the second half. Fortunately, a number of players stepped up when needed, notably captain Mark Barfoot, replacement prop Andy Pritchard, centre Kenton Parbutt, wing Adam Davison, full-back Jon Mann and player–coach Dom Saunders, all making good ground and taking the game to Footscray . They were rewarded when Dom Saunders broke clear and fed Jon Mann with a switch pass and he raced under the posts for a converted try to bring Anchs to within 5 points. However, from the kick-off, Will Rush caught the ball inside the Anchs 22m line, but his long pass to release the backs was intercepted for a simple try under the posts, which put Footscray into a 26 – 14 lead.

In a repeat of the previous try, another break by Dom Saunders left the Footscray defence flat-footed and this time he found Jon Mann in support on the outside, and he finished in style to close the gap back to 5 points following another successful conversion. With time running out, Anchs started to dominate the fading home side and brought the scores level when Adam Davison finished off a blind side break by scoring in the corner. The conversion, which could have put Anchs ahead, was missed, but a now rejuvenated Anchs side continued to attack and with only a couple of minutes to go were awarded a kickable penalty. However, they chose to keep the ball in hand and were rewarded when Jon Mann crashed over beating three tacklers to score his 4th and what proved to be the match winning try. Dom Saunders added the conversion, from where the penalty had been awarded, to give Anchs a 33 – 26 lead. With time almost up, Anchs were able to secure the ball from the restart, retain possession for a few phases and clear the ball to touch to secure a hard-fought victory.

The win caps off a good season with some silverware and augurs well for next season in Kent League 1.

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