Gillingham Anchorians v Kings College Hospital London & SE Division – Shepherd Neame Kent League 1, 15:00 30th March 2019

Anchorians welcomed Kings College Hospital (“KCH”) to Darland Avenue for their final home league game of the season, still needing a bonus point to secure 2nd place in Kent League 1 and a win to ensure a home play-off. Things started well for Anchs as they took an early lead through a Jordan Mitchell penalty and then increased their lead when a quick tap penalty saw Chris Everest feed Adam Davison who went over under the posts for a converted try to make it 10 – 0. Before leaving the field with a hamstring injury, Tom Williams used his pace out wide, chipped the final defender and regathered for an excellent try which put Anchs clear.

The home side were making good ground with some excellent distribution from the ruck by Jordan Mitchell and they also dominated the scrums and lineouts ensuring a good supply of ball for the backs. A few handling mistakes meant Anchs were unable to add to their score and, after a period on attack, KCH eventually broke down the Anchs defence to score a converted try to reduce the lead to just 8 points.

The forwards started to make inroads into the KCH  defence with Will Rush and Neil Alexander prominent. An injury to a KCH defender, who had attempted to stop a rampaging Neil Alexander, delayed the game for a while but Anchs soon increased their lead when Ryan Lehane picked up at the ruck and went straight through a gap to score under the posts, with the conversion giving Anchs a 22 – 7 lead. One final chance on the half time whistle was not taken when a penalty was kicked dead, but Anchs turned around to play down the slope needing just one more try for the 4 try bonus point.

Anchs didn’t have to wait long as Jack Lloyd made a great break and fed Richard Kyle who was tackled but recycled the ball from where Will Rush crashed over to cap a fine display and gain the much needed bonus point. Anchs were dominating the set pieces and sensibly kicking for position and were further rewarded when they put the ball through the hands for Dave Starowicki to use his pace on the outside. He outstripped the defence to go over under the posts for a converted try. Sitting on a 34 – 7 lead Anchs seemed to have the game won, but given England’s recent experience against Scotland, this was no time for complacency. Fortunately, Anchs continued to dominate. Sam Brown and Paul Knight came on for Jack Lloyd and Will Rush respectively and continued the good work up front.  The lead was extended when Kenton Parbutt took the ball on a superb angled run and crashed over for another try converted by Jordan Mitchell.

KCH spent a brief period on attack and were rewarded when they crossed the line from close range, but Anchs quickly got back on the front foot and further tries by Neil Alexander, who chased a kick through by Taylor Parbutt, and Ryan Lehane, who was in support of a Sam Brown break. Anchs created further chances but couldn’t add to the score. They will, however, be pleased with the strong performance and a comprehensive 53 – 12 victory.

With 2nd place in Kent League 1 now secured, Anchs travel to Footscray for the final league game of the season next week, as they await confirmation of an expected home play-off against Sussex League 1 runners-up Crawley, for the chance to return to London SE3 next season.
By Ian Brenton


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