Going into the Kent Cup final as underdogs Combe’s cup side had their day in the sun thanks to a gritty and determined display that saw them come close, and throughout asking the questions of a nervous and at sometimes uncertain Canterbury outfit. With the atrocious weather all week and on the day it looked like it might be mud bath mayhem at Medway RFC for Kent’s super finals day, but half an hour before kick-off the sun came out, and the wind from end to end helped dry the pitch.
Combe had the benefit of the elements in the first half. They had position with Luke Giles ( who did not score a try last week ) directing operations, but could not unlock a dour Canterbury defence who were willing or otherwise to concede penalties. Luke Giles obliged by slotting three, after ten, fifteen and twenty minutes. Coming to the end of the half Canterbury pressed the Combe line, they got the shove on and as Combe creaked the referee was quick to award a Penalty Try
, full back Martyn Beaumont converting. Shortly after, again with pressure on the Combe line Peter Kelly was over for an unconverted try to take Canterbury in at half-time 9-12 up. Canterbury could turn round ahead, now with the elements in their favour and also with some ascendancy up front. But……
Combe would now be pegged back in their half. It was difficult to run out of the 22, even more difficult to kick out of it, but with patience and determination they crept away from the danger zone, and more importantly denied Canterbury more scores. Nikki Davies was making breaks and some ground, David Watkins was having an immense day. Canterbury meanwhile were making mistakes, or in coach-speak were ‘not accurate’. Handling errors, wrong decisions, caught out at the breakdown. It was becoming attritional. The wind was freshening and time also for fresh legs. With his first touch of the ball Canterbury’s centre sub Paul Brown was over for a try which Beaumont converted. Canterbury had run to the corner, and with quick ball at last got their basics right. Combe came right back : into the Canterbury 22, line outs, penalties, Canterbury full back yellow carded, but one mistake and they were back in their own 22, to start the way back all over again, which they did. Davies on the break, Reece Conlon
on the charge, and Richard Adeniyi-Jones involved. Ten yards out Giles’ cross field kick is collected by Ryan Fuller and he is over in the corner, making it a difficult conversion attempt. 14-19 to Canterbury with ten minutes to go. Canterbury are back in the Combe half, and batter away but still Combe remain defiant although pinned down. Canterbury have two penalty shots at goal both accompanied by unnecessary and unsporting jeering. The first hits the upright, but the second, and the last kick of the game sails over much to Canterbury’s relief. 14-22 at the finish.
Combe XV: R. Fuller; C.Lewis, N. Davies, P. Loyden, L. Maybank; L. Giles, J. McDonough; M. Brierley, J. Pankhurst, R. Conlon, N. Coles, D. Watkins, R. Adeniyi-Jones, G. Marshall, J. Catlin.
Sub.s : J. Askew, M. Deaville, H. Fry, J. Taylor.
Match reporter : Bruce Mackenzie.