Anchorians returned to league action at Darland Avenue on Saturday, following two successive defeats and a bye, looking to get back to winning ways and secure 2nd place in Kent 1.
Facing a strong wind in the first half, Anchs conceded a number of penalties, and went behind early on when HSBC converted from in front of the posts. The home side soon hit back when captain Mark Barfoot, who had a typically strong game with ball in hand, made a break and won a penalty at the breakdown. Jon Mann, playing at scrum half in the absence of Jordan Mitchell, took a quick tap and fed Sam Brown who raced through for a try which went unconverted.
Anchs were reduced to 14 men when Joe Granger was yellow carded after conceding a penalty when the team were on a warning for a string of penalties at the breakdown. Mark Barfoot extended the lead after Tom Williams trapped an HSBC clearing kick, the referee deemed he didn’t knock the ball on, and he took off beating a number of defenders before the ball passed through several pairs of hands to the captain on the overlap, who went in at the corner. The kick was missed from a difficult angle. The Anchs defence kept HSBC from scoring for the rest of the half, and Anchs almost extended their lead right on half time but the final pass was forward.
Turning round to play with the wind in the second half Anchs started well and following a break by Jon Mann the ball was fed out to hooker Will Rush who hit the line at pace on an angled run and went over almost unopposed for a try converted by Jon Mann to give Anchs a comfortable 17 – 3 lead. However, Anchs couldn’t really put their game together and allowed HSBC back into the game. A good handling move involving backs and forwards saw the visitors score in the corner and the conversion reduced the lead to just 7 points.
Fortunately for Anchs HSBC were unable to take the chances on offer. Player-coach Richard Kyle came on in the second row and starting winning some good lineout ball which gave Anchs more attacking opportunities. From the back of a scrum, Mark Barfoot fed Jon Mann who almost broke through for the bonus point try but was tap tackled and the chance was lost. Eventually the pressure paid off when Anchs won a lineout, fed the ball out wide and Will Rush again broke though, only to be hauled down but he managed to feed winger Dom Taylor who went over in the corner to give Anchs their bonus point try. HSBC then hit back with a try under the Anchs posts as full time approached to give them a losing bonus point.
The 22 – 17 win was a good outcome from a game which never really reached the standards set earlier in the season. However with only 3 games remaining, Anchs need just one more point to secure 2nd place and a possible playoff.
By Ian Brenton