Anchorians returned to league action at Darland Avenue on Saturday against New Ash Green (“NAG”). Despite a somewhat patchy performance in cold, damp conditions, they eventually came away with another bonus point victory to consolidate their position in 2nd place behind league leaders Ashford.
Playing against the elements in the first half, Anchs soon found themselves under pressure, and after a number of phases on the Anchs line, the visitors cracked the normally solid defence to score a converted try under the posts and take an early 0 – 7 lead.
Anchs hit back in what turned out to be one of only a few forays into NAG territory in the first half. Tom Williams, playing at full back, beat 3 defenders, cut inside and then fed Neil Alexander who was supporting on the outside and he raced in for a 5 pointer which went unconverted.
NAG dominated territory for a long period but failed to add to their lead. Even when Paul Knight was yellow carded for an offense at the ruck, a number of opportunities were not taken, and with the visitors to opting for scrums rather than taking a shot at goal, Anchs managed to keep the score at 5 – 7.
With half time approaching and Anchs restored to 15 players, the referee yellow carded 2 NAG players for an off-the-ball incident. This allowed Anchs to press for a score but they were thwarted by the NAG defence. When they also chose to take a scrum on the NAG line they conceded a rare foot up decision at the scrum, which signaled
the end of the first half. Turning around to play with the wind behind them, but with drizzle making handling more difficult, Anchs continued to press against 13 man
NAG. However, they failed to capitalize and began to make a few mistakes and concede a number of penalties, which allowed NAG to clear their lines. When Anchs were awarded a penalty inside the NAG 22, Adam Davison took a quick tap and fed Neil Alexander who crashed over for his second try to put Anchs in the lead, and stand-in kicker Jordan Mitchell added the conversion.
The lead was to be short lived as NAG went back on attack and continuing their option of taking scrums rather than taking the points on offer they were finally rewarded when they drove over the Anchs line from close range, with the conversion giving them back a 12 – 14 lead. Anchs have been strong in the last quarter of games all season, and with
NAG hampered by a lack of substitutes, their large forward pack slowed and Anchs took advantage. After probably their best period of play, Anchs re-took the lead when they moved the ball to winger Taylor Parbutt who went over in the corner for another unconverted try.
The forwards were providing good ball for the backs, contributing to the attack with strong runs, notably from No. 8 Mark Barfoot, and locks Neil Alexander and Alfie Luckhurst, and winning good set piece ball, with Sam Brown winning his fair share of lineout ball. Anchs almost scored their 4th try when Will Rush just failed to hang on to the final pass following a sweeping move. The bonus point try eventually came when fly half Dave Arnold fed Adam Davison on an angled run. He scored under the posts
and Jordan Mitchell again added the conversion.
Anchs completed the scoring with a well deserved try for captain Mark Barfoot who chipped the winger, regathered the ball and used his footwork to beat 2 defenders on the line to go over in the corner. The game finished with some scrappy play and a few off the ball incidents, but Anchs will be happy to come away with 5 points although they will be disappointed with some lapses which will need to be fixed for the upcoming games; the RFU Junior Vase 4 th round against Staines, a difficult away game against Southwark Lancers and then the home fixture against leaders Ashford.
By Ian Brenton