Sheppey 53 – 14 Southwark Lancers
Kent Vase Final
The Kent Vase Final would be the last test in a long season for Sheppey as they looked to add to their success with some Silverware.
Sheppey knew little of Southwark Lancers, other than a decent record of beating 2 mid-table Kent 1 sides. So it was all to play for, as both teams would test each other out in the 1st 10 minutes.
Skipper John Kelly led out the troops for the final time this season accompanied by team mascots, Jacob Champ and Luca Olliver, on a fine Sunday afternoon.
JK opted to choose ends and play into the slight wind in the first half, but this also meant Sheppey could get their hands on the ball in the first few seconds.
As with almost all the matches this season, Sheppey threw everything at Lancers in the 1st 10 minutes, with Sheppey creating space all over the pitch.
Bain went close only to be held up in goal, but it only took a few more minute for Sheppey to cross the line for the first time, with a powerful run from the base of the scrum by Dylan Davies. Box was unfortunate, missing the extra 2.
Once again though, Sheppey worked back into the Lancers end of the field from the restart, and put pressure on Southwark forwards at the breakdown which resulted in a penalty. JK asking Box to have a shot at goal, and this time he found the target. 8-0 to Sheppey.
At the restart, Sheppey again went hard at Southwark, and got close to the line once more. However, some good work at the breakdown turned the ball over for Southwark to clear their lines. The prevailing wind sent the ball long into the Sheppey 22, and some good work by the winger forced Box to have a go at running back. The referee took exception to Boxes hand-off saying it was a punch and so awarded the Lancers a penalty. This left Sheppey napping and while half the team was still sauntering down the field, Lancers tapped and went and eventually drove over the line. The Lancers kicker didn’t miss his opportunity to bring the scores close. 8-7 to Sheppey.
Sheppey refocused knowing they were by far the stronger side, and decided to keep hold of the ball and put some phases together.
2 opportunities were missed when Brad Box’ foot was judged to be in touch as he offloaded a nice ball back inside for Chris Bain to stroll in the corner. Then a few minutes later, Bain crossed the line only to have the ball stripped from his grasp as he went to put it down.
But the constant pressure being shown was enough to rattle the Lancers.
Eventually it told, when a Sheppey scrum in the bottom right corner was driven over the line for an easy finish for Dylan Davies. Box pulling the extras to the left side of the post.
Sheppey now had a good foothold, and it was more good work at the lineout, that allowed Steve Croall to crash through the Lancers defence to extend the lead a little further, this time Box didn’t miss. 20 – 7.
Big carries from Croall, Davies, Smith and Mills sucked in the Lancers defence, allowing Sheppey to strike out wide, but the few opportunities they had came to nothing.
Halftime arrived, and both teams took the opportunity to grab a well earned drink on what was turning into be a very warm day.
But once again, when the referees whistle sounded, Sheppey continued the pressure and physicality of the first half. Only 5 minutes in, Prop Dave Dewis went close with a pop pass from John Kelly, but it was Tom Varker who stole the points as Tariu Kautai cleared out. Tom managed to grab the ball and make an athletic dive for the line to score virtually under the post. The healthy lead extended with Box getting the conversion. And it could have been increased some more, but for Dave Smith knocking the ball on as he approached the line only a few minutes later.
The resulting scrum was turned over and Tariu was on hand to pounce and grab a try. Box pulling the kick from out wide.
Sheppey seemed to have the game sewn up, but a mistake on the restart saw the ball go loose. It was a good run from the Lancers prop (I think) who set them up for a score within 20 seconds of the restart. The kicker did his job once more to bring their score to 14.
JK rallied the troops asking for 2 tries back in return for the mistake, and it was Croall who answered… 2 quick fire tries in virtually the same place on the field. With Box getting 1 of the conversions.
Box also managed to grab one himself after showing an outrageous dummy to the winger, he strolled in under the post untouched and converting his own try too.
The Sheppey players gathered on the halfwayline, as Box slotted the final kick of the game, to a huge cheer from the 400 strong crowd.
e Sheppey 53 – 14 Southwark Lancers.
Team: Dewis, Varker, Croall, Smith, Champ, Kautai, Mills, Davies, Kelly (capt), Robinson, Roach, Eley, Adams, Bain, Box.
Replacements: Kelly, Marzetti, Nichols, Marsden
Match photos can be found here:
A great end to a great season. Who’d have thought we would get promotion and some silverware at the start of the year. But now is the time to enjoy the summer and let those niggly injuries heal.
Awards Dinner is 21st May, tickets are now all gone. And Wednesday 25th May is AGM.
Sheppey RFC Summer Tour – 3rd to 5th June to Nottingham. If there is any others who wish to come, you have until the end of this week to pay me (JK) in full.