Gillingham Anchorians v Whitstable London & SE Division – Shepherd Neame Kent 1, 14:00 15 th December 2018

Whitstable were the visitors to Darland Avenue on a cold, wet and windy winter afternoon for Anchs’ last league game of 2018. Despite the conditions, the home side carried on where they left off the previous week with a dominant performance and came away with another emphatic bonus point victory.

Anchs made a good start and, after a sustained period on attack, were rewarded when second row Alfie Luckhurst crashed over from close range. With the conversion missed, Whitstable soon got into the game and, aided by some good kicking, created scoring opportunities but failed to finish, due in part to Anchs solid defence but also their own
decision making.
Both sides were attempting to move the ball, but mistakes were inevitable in the conditions. However, Anchs increased their advantage when Harrison Irons, who had returned to the field after having a head injury patched up, drove over for a try which again went unconverted.
Both Mark Barfoot and Sam Brown were making good ground with ball in hand, and flanker Brown was rewarded when he kicked through and gathered the ball under the Whitstable posts and slid over for the third try of the day from the pack. Jon Mann added the conversion with a drop kick to give Anchs a 17 – 0 half time lead.
The home side continued their dominance in the second half and Whitstable’s indifferent kicking out of defence gave Anchs numerous opportunities to counter attack. However, in the difficult conditions the final pass was often going astray. One such attack saw Jon Mann and Adam Davison combine but the final pass was intercepted by a retreating Whitstable defender. The attempted clearance was charged down by Kenton Parbutt and he gathered the ball on the line and touched down to give Anchs their bonus point try. As Jon Mann was about to kick the conversion the ball fell off the tee and he picked it up
and slotted a drop kick to add the extra points.

With the victory and bonus point secured Anchs looked to move the ball wide although they were not getting the usual supply of ball from the lineouts which proved difficult in the windy conditions. The backs,
having been outscored by the forwards the previous week, made their presence felt when Tom Williams, receiving the ball on the left wing used his speed on the outside to cross the line on two separate occasions, both of which were converted from out wide by Jon Mann.

With time nearly up, number eight Mark Barfoot gathered a clearing kick on the Whitstable 22m line and beat two defenders on the line to score a well deserved try which was again converted from out wide by Jon Mann to complete a 45 – 0 victory.
Anchs very much deserved their seven try victory and played some good rugby in very difficult conditions. They will also be pleased to have kept a clean sheet and can now look forward to continuing their impressive form in 2019. The next game is away to third placed Old Gravesendians who are sure to be difficult opponents on their home ground.

By Ian Brenton

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