Gillingham Anchorians v Cranbrook London & SE Division – Kent League 1 14:00 1st December 2018

Anchorians hosted 5th placed Cranbrook in a Kent League 1 match on Saturday, which also doubled as the Tony Younger Memorial Cup. Following defeat in the equivalent fixture last year, Anchs expected a tough encounter made all the more difficult by the persistent drizzle.

Playing with the elements in the first half the game started with both sides testing each other out. With Anchs on attack a clearing kick from inside the Cranbrook 22m was fielded cleanly in open space by full-back Jon Mann and he used his speed and agility to beat 4 defenders to open the scoring. He also added the conversion to give Anchs an early 7 – 0 lead.

Despite the conditions both sides handled the ball well but both defences prevented any clear chances being created. With Cranbrook on attack, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, which they duly converted to reduce the lead to 4 points.

Anchs soon hit back when centre Kenton Parbutt took a pass and used his strength to beat his opposite number and score an unconverted try to extend Anchs lead.

The Anchs scrum was proving dominant which provided a supply of ball for the backs. When Anchs kicked through, the Cranbrook full-back was caught in possession and Jon Mann gathered the ball from the ensuing breakdown and raced through to score his second try and again added the conversion to give Anchs a 19 – 3 lead. With half time approaching Cranbrook went on the attack but the Anchs defence was up to the task. The home side were, however, conceding a number of penalties but Cranbrook were unable to take advantage and missed a kickable opportunity leaving the score at half time 19 – 3.

The second half proved to be a messy affair with Anchs conceding a string of penalties, but solid well-organised defence kept Cranbrook from crossing the try line. The game was being played almost exclusively in the Anchs half with only a couple of break outs from defence, in particular by wing Dave Starowicki. In a rare period on attack, Anchs were awarded a penalty which Jon Mann took quickly and again used his speed to outpace the defence to score his third and importantly the team’s bonus point try. The conversion went astray but Anchs held a commanding 24 – 3 lead. The game finished with Cranbrook pressing for a consolation try but the Anchs defence held out.

The bonus point victory keeps Anchs in 2nd place, 4 points behind unbeaten Ashford, and has started to open a gap on the chasing teams. Next week Anchs face a difficult away game at Kings College Hospital, hoping to maintain their winning form built on a solid defence and the ability to create chances and score tries from anywhere on the field.


By Ian Brenton


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