Faversham fall short despite outstanding performance.
Having been defeated 43-5 by RBS in the corresponding away fixture earlier in the season, Faversham came close to surprising their visitors with a home win but missed out in the final few minutes.
With a strong squad available, and buoyed by back to back league wins for the first time this season Faversham started this Saturdays fixture hoping to put down a marker in the league and present a far more formidable challenge to opponents RBS than was shown in the away fixture earlier this season.
Attacking down the slope in the first half, the home side looked to use the strong winds to put their opponents under pressure kicking for the corners and pushing hard in the defensive line. Using solid line out possession, Faversham looked to establish some territory with which to work with hoping to use the advantages given by the conditions to build a lead. Strong drives by amongst others, new signing Rhys Mcdermott, and some good recycling of quick ball allowed the backs to launch attacks, but RBS were dogged in their defence, repeatedly breaking up Faversham attacks when the chance presented itself and making good use of penalties gained from Faversham indiscipline to push their way back up field.
With their number 8 particularly elusive and causing problems for the Faversham defence, the visiting side made a number of strong attacks of their own, with one quick turnover near their own line, leading to a break only being stopped at around halfway by desperate cover defence from Freddie Iron and Tim Woolf preventing an almost certain breakaway try.
RBS were the first to strike with their usual brand of fast flowing rugby and effective offloading in or before contact. Again their no.8 did the damage before quick hands released the support runner for a score near the posts and a relatively simple conversion.
Another similar RBS try followed in quick succession, this time unconverted, with Faversham left ruing crucial missed tackles, and in danger of letting their heads drop if determination levels dropped.
However the home side kicked off with renewed intent. Chasing hard off the kick off the Faversham forwards brought the kick receiver down well and forced the knock on to regain possession. A period of sustained pressure followed, and some punching drives from the pack drove Faversham up-field sucking in the opposition defence. Fast ruck ball in the 22 allowed Faversham to open up releasing Eddie Stott to charge upfield before releasing the backs outside him for Paul Cooper to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but Faversham had gained a foothold back in the game, turning around for half time 5-12 down but well in the game.
Now facing both the slope and the wind against them Faversham knew they had a difficult task to take the game to RBS in the 2nd half, and but took to the task with gusto, showing a marked improvement in their offensive play.
The introduction of usual no.8 Luke Garnham not long after the break added real power to team, and with McDermott, Stacey Woolf, Jack Meadows and Stott all making repeated powerful charges up field, the visiting side struggled to set their defence with so many potential ball carriers.
With these drives sucking in defenders, the backs were not to be outdone with Billy Egleton and Bertie Sanders amongst others making strong runs, and Jonny Hodges controlling well at 10, the pressure was noticeably building on the RBS defence.
The pressure finally told from a strong scrum 10 yards out, with the RBS defence perhaps expecting another big forward drive, scrum half Dave Tabor, sniped from the base of the scrum to score in the corner and bring Faversham back within 2 points at 10-12 with the conversion again missed.
Sensing the chance to win Faversham continued to attack hard, again pressurising the visiting defence. When RBS did manage to recycle the ball and kick clear it was repeatedly returned with interest with Paul Cooper and Tim Woolf unshakeable under the high ball.
With cracks appearing, RBS began to give away penalties with Faversham twice opting to kick at goal but were undone by the wind as kicks from Hodges and Egleton both narrowly missing. Pressure was building on both sides and Faversham were given another chance with about 10 mins to go as RBS again coughed up a penalty at the breakdown. This time Egleton was able to slot the kick to put Faversham ahead for the first time in the match at 13-12.
From the kick off Faversham needed to get hold of the ball and maintain some solid possession but RBS were not to be outdone. Pushing up in defence the backs were able to gain a penalty within good kicking range for their fly half and soon found themselves back in a slender lead, 13-15.
With the clock ticking Faversham upped their game again, pushing deep into the opposition half. With perhaps naivety or over enthusiasm showing the home pack were penalised for an early engage when awarded a scrum in the opposition 22, and RBS made them pay with devastating effect. Kicking downfield, RBS won the resulting line out and pushed deeper in to the Faversham 22. Under intense pressure the home side were penalised, and with some perhaps expecting RBS to again kick for goal, the visiting team took a tap and the oncoming runner squeezed through to score near the posts with the try being duly converted, 13-22.
In the remaining few minutes Faversham pushed again but were unable to break through and were left frustrated with nothing to show from one of the best performance of the season so far.
Coach Ben Tewkesbury was pleased with the performance and particularly impressed with the 2nd half display, whilst noting there was still work to be done on discipline and decision making aspects.
Sam Oatley was awarded man of the match for his often unseen work in defence and at the breakdown.