Kings College Hospital v Gillingham Anchorians London & SE Division -Shepherd Neame Kent 1, 14:00 8th December 2018

Anchs travelled to Dulwich to face Kings College Hospital (KCH) who sat just below then on the Kent 1 league table, in what was expected to be a difficult encounter. What transpired was probably one of Anchs’ best performances of the season in difficult wet and windy conditions against a strong KCH side.

The game started at pace and Anchs, playing up the slope, moved the ball to the wing only to hand KCH an interception, and they made ground, recycled the ball and their centre broke through to score under the posts for a converted try to give the home side an early 7 – 0 lead. Anchs didn’t panic following this early setback, and steadily built their game, moving the ball between backs and forwards and playing the game mainly in the KCH half. Anchs came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but were finally rewarded when KCH attempted to run out of defence, they lost the ball and Anchs went through a number of phases before Joe Granger crashed over from close range. Jon Mann added the conversion to bring Anchs back on level terms. 

Anchs continued to move the ball effectively and their driving play, lead by Ryan Lehane, Connor Roles and captain Mark Barfoot, kept them on attack for long periods. The scrum was also proving dominant, and much improved throwing into the lineout ensured a good supply of ball from the set pieces. Following a further period on attack, scrum half Jordan Mitchell fed JoGranger who again forced his way over for his and Anchs second try which was converted by Jon Mann to give Anchs a well deserved 14 – 7 lead. 

Just before half time, following another sustained period of attack, Anchs eventually broke the KCH defence when Jon Mann crossed the line from close range and he added the conversion to put Anchs in control.

Turning around to play up the slope in the second half, KCH were determined to run the ball out of defence using one-off runners. However, Anchs defence was solid and well-organised which meant the home side were pinned in their own half. The suffocating defenceeventually caused KCH to spill the ball and Adam Davison pounced to score Anchs bonus point try which Jon Mann converted from the touchline. 

Anchs extended their lead when a penalty kick to the corner saw Anchs win the lineout, and Ryan Lehane capped a fine all round performance when he was driven over by the pack for another try duly converted by Jon Mann.  

KCH then hit back and, following a rare period on attack, they tested the Anchs defence which was eventually broken when they moved the ball wide to score their second try which they converted to bring the score back to 14 – 35.

Following an injury to one of the home sides front rowers, the referee, after discussion with both coaches, called for uncontested scrums which unfortunately took away one of Anchsattacking advantages. Nevertheless, Anchs were still dominating possession and territory and were further rewarded when Richard Kyle fed a short pass to Kenton Parbutt who used his strength to crash through a couple of tackles and then returned the ball to the Anchs second rower on the inside who went over under the posts for another converted try.

The rain, which had become heavier in the second half, stopped for the last quarter of the match and, in better conditions, Anchs added a 7th try when Jon Mann took a quick tap penalty which saw Richard Kyle add his second try and Jon Mann completed the scoring by adding the conversion to maintain his 100% kicking success. KCH added a late consolation try before full time, but Anchs convincing 19 – 49 victory saw them sit temporarily at the top of Kent 1 at the halfway stage of the season, with no result recorded from Ashford’s game against RBS.

Anchs can take great credit from an excellent team performance, in both attack and defence, lead by a forward pack which dominated the opposition and contributed 5 tries to the final score. It is clear that the team is playing to an effective pattern , which allows new players to easily fit into the team, and augurs well for the second half of the season.

By Ian Brenton

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