Return to winning ways
difference in fitness began to show
After a two week break Whitstable returned to winning ways to secure maximum points against third place Lordswood, and apply more pressure on league leaders Brockleians.
A poor first half display was outshone by a dominant second half, as Whitstable’s fitness proved too much for the visitors to handle.
Poor discipline tainted the first 10 minutes as the penalty count rose for both teams and possession went to and fro with little threat from either team. Whitstable were the first to get a grip on the game when, after a good drive from the Whitstable pack, Lordswood were penalised for wheeling the scrum. The kick to the corner gave Whitstable their first platform to attack from, and a cleanly taken lineout allowed the home side to drive towards the line, before a good defensive shove from Lordswood kept the ball from crossing their line, and were eventually able to clear their line.
Whitstable came close in the 25th minute when inside centre Luke Bowers scooped up a loose pass before drawing his man and popping the ball to the onrushing Andy Till. The fullback broke through a gap in midfield and headed to the corner, but was dragged into touch by his opposite man as he grounded the ball.
Three minutes later Whitstable were on the attack again, and after a series of penalties, Lordswood’s blindside flanker was sent to the sin bin for repeat infringements. Having earlier turned down several opportunities for shots at goal, Whitstable once again kicked to the corner hoping to make their one man advantage count. From the lineout Whitstable set up another driving maul, and Captain Ben Cliff was able to break off and barrel over the line for the first score of the day. Conversion missed.
A strong carry from Sam Holness, and good ruck clear out from the pack allowed quick ball for fly half Marck Olive to release Till down the wing from deep inside their own half. Olive tracked inside Till to leave Whitstable with a two on one, but Till’s inside pass back to Olive was intercepted by the retreating Lordswood defence as they again denied Whitstable.
The visitors were awarded a penalty in the final moments of the first half and kicked to the corner. Despite being back to their full complement, they opted for a 3 man lineout which was stolen by Whitstable who were able to clear their lines to keep the first half score at 5-0.
After some stern halftime words from Coach Mal Graves, the first half’s lack of intensity seemed to have been eradicated as inside 2 minutes replacement winger Jamie Piggins doubled the home team’s lead. A poor Lordswood kick off was gathered by Whitstable and scum half Andrew Huey’s box kick found space deep in the Lordswood half. A good chase from Olive and winger Will Reid forced the Lordswood fullback to collect the ball and run behind his own try line, where he eventually spilt the ball behind his own line and Piggins was the quickest to react for a fortuitous score, which Huey converted from out wide. 12-0.
Another poor Lordswood lineout was won by Whitstable and when the ball eventually found its way to Bowers the centre crashed through the attempted tackles and broke into the Lordswood 22. After an initial lack of support, Bowers’ loose pass was cleaned up by Whitstable who were penalised for holding on and unable to capitalise once again.
The 65th minute was when the difference in fitness began to show as Cliff crossed for his second and Whitstable’s third. The hooker picked from the base of the ruck and went to the blindside, drawing a defender and releasing Piggins; the winger charged down the pitch and gave the inside pass back to Cliff who ran in unopposed to dot down under the posts. Huey converted to take Whitstable 19 points clear.
The resulting Lordswood restart didn’t go 10 metres, but as Lordswood stopped expecting a scrum second row Andy Newman gathered the ball to storm downfield. Strong carries from the Whitstable forwards allowed the backs to attack an overlap out wide, but a handling error let Lordswood off the hook.
Despite the loss of possession from a promising attack, Whitstable were able to convert pressure to points swiftly after. With Piggins moving to fullback, winger Bobby Powell re-joined the game to score the bonus point try. The forwards carried and made good ground against a tiring defence and provided more quick ball for the backs who offloaded well to eventually find Powell, on his opposite wing, to break the Lordswood tackles and go in under the posts. Huey converts for 26-0.
Another Lordswood restart didn’t make 10 metres and at the resulting scrum the Whitstable forwards began to dominate and provided clean ball for Huey. Huey carried down the blindside, and quick hands from Piggins found Reid out wide who beat his man to give back inside to Piggins. Hollness provided the support line and raced under the posts for the 5th try of the day. Huey added the conversion to complete the scoring for the day taking Whitstable to 33 points.
The final act of the game was Lordswood’s best passage; a grubber kick restart was collected scrappily by Whitstable who were penalised for holding on. With the hope of just a consolation try, Lordswood took a tap penalty and sent their physical ball carriers towards the try line, but a resolute Whitstable defence held firm, and saw the game out.
Whitstable will face Greenwich away on 9th November.
Match report credit to Andy Till