Combe triumph in Kent Cup Final clash with ‘Club’.
By Graham Seppings
Combe held on for a well-deserved victory, 16-12, over Blackheath in the Kent Cup Final at Aylesford, played in dry, sunny conditions, .......
.........with a gentle breeze blowing from the motorway end and in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
With first use of the breeze and slight slope Combe gave as good as they got in the opening exchanges as both sides tore into each other. The pace was fast and furious. Within ten minutes Blackheath out-half Simon Whatling found winger Matt Wepke with a short chip, and Wepke was away scorching down the left touchline and scoring in the corner. This looked ominous for Combe, but they were not to be cowed. Tom Gray had a chip and collect and was half through, Lee Covington made ground up the left, James Cameron had seen his first shot at goal drift wide. He put his second one over on the half hour, for 3-5. Blackheath again put Wepke clear and this was dangerous until Rob Cattanach saved the day with his covering tackle. Wepke was off injured, and Blackheath would have to find another way through. Combe were more than a match upfront and were pinching turnover ball as well. With the interval looming James Cameron put over his second penalty from the ten metre line for 6-5. Blackheath pressed, but Combe were getting the shove on to deny and disrupt, and with penalty awards as well were able to clear their lines. But the slim lead at half-time seemed not enough come the turn round. A few more points would be good.
What to do in the second half? Play in their faces. Twice Shaun Dixon led the charge upfield from the re-start, and with Josh Penney in a bit of space Sam Randle was released to tear in at the left corner and round towards the posts. Try. Conversion. James Cameron added the extras. Combe lead 13-5 but there is half an hour to go. Blackheath bounce back immediately and camp in Combe’s twenty-two. Combe defend on the edge and from a line-out and drive, and with a man advantage Blackheath captain and No 8 Isaac Ajayi is over from short range for a try converted by Simon Whatling. 13-12. Combe still take the game to Blackheath. Sam Randle pinched the re-start, Joe Bonner carried it on, support by Mark Davey and Lee Covington. Combe are in the opposition twenty-two at best, or in their half at least, and so away from danger. There is no let-up in the pace or intensity. Blackheath at last clear to Combe’s twenty-two, but fumble in attack and a poor drop-goal attempt goes wide. James Lindfield leads the charge back into opposition territory. Blackheath go a man short, James Cameron obliges with his third penalty. 16-12. Last quarter. Blackheath come again, but Combe hold out, and eventually clear their lines. A long range shot at goal is short which allows Blackheath to clear to Combe’s half. Less than five minutes now. A kick and chase by Blackheath full-back Hamish Graham almost sees him squeeze in at the corner. One last big scrum from Combe now on their own five metre line. The Combe pack delivers, Combe’s penalty, last play of the game, Combe have held on for a well-deserved victory. A mighty team effort.
Having finished out of the mix for top of the league table places this was a more than satisfactory way to finish the season, and a performance much appreciated by the travelling support.
Westcombe Park XV: F. Neale; S. Randle, J. Penney, D. Bonner, T. Gray; J. Cameron, R. Cattanach; M. Poole, J. Bonner, R. Conlon, R. Cooke, K. Coulter, L. Covington, J. Lindfield, S. Dixon.
Subs: J. Snape, M. Davey, T. Christopher, B. Bateup.
Match reporter - Bruce Mackenzie.