Gillingham Anchorians v Southwark Lancers London & SE Division – Kent 1, 15:00 20 th October 2018

Anchs returned to Darland Avenue, following a week’s break, to face 4th placed Southwark Lancers on a perfect Autumn afternoon ideally suited to Anchs running game. The visitors also showed a willingness to move the ball and it was only solid defence from both sides which prevented a higher scoring game.

The game started well for Anchs with Kenton Parbutt making several strong runs from centre, one of which led to him feeding Jon Mann who in turn found Mark Barfoot in support who went over in the corner for his first try of the day. With the conversion missed, the home side continued to attack, but were guilty on a couple of occasions of not using players in support and try scoring opportunities were missed. Anchs did extend their lead when excellent handling found Tom Williams in space and he raced over for another unconverted try to extend the lead to 10 – 0.

Southwark immediately hit back and showed their ability to run the ball but Anchs well organized defence kept them out. When they did regain possession Anchs attempted to run the ball out of defence but were penalized for holding onto the ball in the tackle. Southwark turned down the kick at goal and instead kicked the ball to the corner, won the ball at the front of the lineout and crashed over in the corner to reduce the
lead to 5 points.

Anchs continued with their running and offloading game but the visitors’ defence proved difficult to break. When Anchs were awarded a penalty in the opposition 22 they chose to take the scrum but then lost the ball against the head. Just before half time Southwark broke through the Anchs defence but Jon Mann, playing at full back, put in a try saving tackle, regained the ball and when the ball was secured found himself outside Adam Davison who fed him in space, he rounded the outside backs and fed Mark Barfoot who was supporting on the inside and he took the pass to score under the posts. Jon Mann then converted the try to give Anchs a 17 – 5 half time lead.

Soon after half time, with Anchs playing down the slope, Connor Roles came on for Paul Knight and immediately made an impact with ball in hand. However, the visitors made a lively start to the second half and, having broken through the Anchs defence they dropped the ball over the line. Eventually, however, they were rewarded when they again kicked a penalty to the corner, won the lineout and drove over for an unconverted try to bring them within 7 points of the lead.

At this point, Anchs picked up their game and started to provide better ball from the set pieces. While on attack in mid field, scrum half Jordan Mitchell took the ball at the back of a solid scrum, broke to the open side and found captain Mark Barfoot again supporting on the inside and he crossed under the post for his 3rd and Anchs 4th try to secure the bonus point and give Anchs a bit of breathing space. Jon Mann added the conversion to give Anchs a 14 point lead. Not to be deterred, the visitors continued to run the ball, taking quick tap penalties in an attempt to catch the Anchs defence on the back foot, but the defence was up to the task. Towards the end of the game, Southwark had a player yellow-carded and Anchs took advantage when they thought they had extended their lead with a repeat of the last try but on this occasion Mark Barfoot was denied his 4 th try by a forward pass. Anchs did however extend their lead when Kenton Parbutt made another break and fed Jon Mann who beat the defence to score a try which he duly converted.
Southwark were not finished and continued to attack but, following a clean break, Jon Mann and Taylor Parbutt snuffed out the attack to keep the score at 31 – 10, giving Anchs another hard earned 5 points to keep their perfect record intact after 6 matches.

Next week Anchs travel to Ashford who also have a perfect record but have scored far more points and sit at the top of Kent 1. It’s clear that Anchs face a daunting task but their solid defence and ability to score points from anywhere on the pitch should see an enthralling encounter.

By Ian Brenton

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