Anchorians travelled to South London to face 4th placed Southwark Lancers on their return to league action on Saturday. Anchs were expecting a tough encounter away from home, and Southwark certainly made a strong start, testing the Anchs defence from the outset. A try saving tackle in the corner by full-back Jon Mann denied the home side an early score and then, after choosing to take a shot at goal, Southwark missed another opportunity to take the lead when the kick went wide. Anchs lost hooker Will Rush early on when the referee deemed a knock to the head meant he couldn’t continue, and he was replaced by Connor Roles.
With Southwark dominating territory and possession, Anchs were forced to defend, which they did to great effect and managed to soak up everything Southwark could throw at them. On one occasion, Adam Davison put in a tackle inside his own 22, stripped the ball and run ¾ length of the field only to be run down by the covering defenders. Anchs however did take the lead against the run of play, when Adam Barnett, playing in the second row in place of Ryan Lehane, crashed over from short range for a try which was converted by Jordan Mitchell.
Southwark continued to threaten the Anchs line and were winning a plentiful supply of lineout ball but failed to break the Anchs defence. As half time approached, the visitors spent some time on attack and after opting for a scrum rather than taking a kick at goal, Mark Barfoot was held up over the line. After again coming up short in the corner, Anchs were eventually rewarded when wing Sam Kindred stepped through the defensive line and scored close to the posts, allowing Jordan Mitchell to add the conversion for a 0 – 14 half time lead.
Anchs started well in the second half and Mark Barfoot was again deemed to have been held up over the line after breaking off the back of a 5 metre scrum. Despite dominating in the scrums and spending time in the Southwark 22, and with the home side reduced to 14 after receiving a yellow card for going offside at the ruck, Anchs couldn’t add to their lead. They rearranged their back line when Dave Arnold was replaced by Tom Williams, but it was through the forwards that Anchs extended their lead when Connor Roles forced his way over from close range.
Although the conversion was missed, Anchs appeared to hold a convincing 0 – 19 lead and looked to push for the bonus point try, but they were forced to defend, as Southwark began to move the ball and find some gaps in the Anchs defence. A break by the Southwark winger saw him in open space but he was cut down by a covering tackle by Mark Barfoot which the referee deemed to be high and he issued a yellow card, reducing Anchs to 14 men. After resisting further attacks on their line, Anchs cleared the ball downfield but allowed the Southwark full back to evade a number of tacklers and set up a try in the corner. The conversion was missed but Southwark made their numerical superiority count when they took advantage of a penalty in the Anchs 22 and created a second try out wide which again went unconverted.
The final few minutes saw Southwark dominate possession but the Anchs defence held up, and good work at the ruck, particularly by Neil Alexander who had another strong game, denied Southwark further scoring opportunities.
The hard earned 10 – 19 victory keeps Anchs securely in second place in Kent 1, as they prepare to face unbeaten Ashford back at Darland Avenue next week. Anchs will need to work on their lineout and ensure they are more clinical in attack to compete with Ashford, but can look at their defensive effort and strong scrum and breakdown work as positives to take into next week.
By Ian Brenton