Dengate Delight as Castaways secure Kent Cup.
By Ross Chipperton
In a season marred in concern about the clubs future, Faversham show Swale Borough Council just how important rugby in the town is as they add to their already impressive season by adding Kent Cup success to the already gained promotion to Kent 1.
Faversham travelled to Charlton Park for the final of the Kent Salver merely nine hours after their end of season dinner finished, however heads were fully focussed on the task in hand. Southwark Lancers were the opposition for the final and having finished just one place out of the promotion places in Kent 1, the boys knew there was a statement to be made to the rest of the league by securing the win.
Faversham started the better of the two sides. Straight from kick off a good kick chase led to Southwark knocking the ball on in their own 22’. From the scrum Sham drove the Lancers back and Mills broke down the blind side. Following strong carries from both Garnham and McDermott, ‘Sham were awarded the first penalty of the afternoon. McDermott opted for the posts, however Payne narrowly missed his kick to the left of the uprights and Lancers were able to clear their lines with a 22’ drop out.
For the next 15 minutes both sides traded strong carries in a brutally physical period. Mills once again showed his superb power by breaking numerous tackles, with Garnham and McDermott again carrying strongly. Hooker Jack Meadows was having his game of the season at just the right time, as he made himself a presence at what seemed like every breakdown in order to slow down the Southwark ball. It was ill-discipline however that was costing Faversham dearest. With all three match officials ‘miked up’, both sides were perhaps getting away with less than they would on an average Saturday afternoon. It was the offsides on the back foot that were consistently costing Faversham, with some of the forward pack being too slow in retreating at the breakdown.
Faversham were then reduced to 14 men as captain McDermott was sin binned for sacking the man in the air at the line out. However this didn’t stop Faversham’s hunger for success.
A moment of magic from Fijian winger Samu Sarate then opened the scoring for Faversham. After a good kick by Sam Payne, Southwark were forced into touch just 10 metres from their own line. A catch and drive from Faversham set up Mills to carry just short of the line. The ball was spun to Sarate, who despite being tackled five metres from the line, managed to spin and land on his back just 1 metre from the try line. However instead of placing the ball towards his team to ruck over. He unbelievably placed the ball over his head without looking and it landed with down wood pressure on the whitewash to spark celebrations amongst the Faversham supporters. Payne added the extras to give Faversham a 7-0 lead.
Southwark came back strongly and quickly got territory in the Faversham half. A strong line from their 12 broke two tackles before the ever present Sanders-Champney chopped him low just on the 22’. However quick ball enabled Lancers to score out wide and make the score 7-5.
The second half begun in disastrous fashion for the Castaways as Southwark scored two tries in quick succession. Faversham had 35 minutes to turn the deficit around, but playing up the hill and into the wind after a night of celebrations ending only twelve hours earlier; it appeared unlikely to happen. What happened next typified the season Faversham has had and the amount of character amongst the squad.
‘Sham continued to dominate the scrum and this continued when Faversham skipper Rhys McDermott popped up his opposite man and won his side a penalty. Fly half Payne kicked to the corner and Meadows found Iron jumping at 5 on his return from injury. ‘Sham drove towards the corner before Williams provided Payne with the ball. Payne used Gander-Compton as a decoy before finding Ollie Jaynes out wide. Jaynes was held up short and this led to strong carries from Garnham and Mills. Williams then found man of the match Meadows out wide who drew two defenders before slipping the ball inside to full back Sander-Champney who crashed over after running a disgusting line from close range.
It seemed too little to late however as Faversham were still 3 points behind with 8 minutes to go. However the never say die attitude that has got them so far this season got them there just rewards. Faversham kept the ball for the remainder of the game, edging into the Lancers 22’. With the clock now in the red, Payne drifted with the ball before sending over an inch perfect kick into the corner. Veteran winger Tim Woolf, making his 250th club appearance for the club, beat his opposite man for pace before diving on the ball in the try area. The touch judge signalled try to the referee and Faversham had done it, with a try in the last play of the game. This sparked jubilant celebrations for the players and supporters alike before captain McDermott was presented the Salver Shield by the Kent RFU chairman.
Director of Rugby Rob Dengate said ‘Sunday was a historic moment in the clubs history and fully deserved for everyone involved with the club. Winning the cup has topped of an outstanding season and against an established Kent 1 rugby club like Southwark Lancers suggests we can set our sights high for next season’s campaign. It has been a real pleasure to be involved with a real committed bunch of players.
Captain Rhys McDermott added ‘Beating Southwark Lancers who are a well-established Kent 1 team will send a message out to the league above. To concede two tries straight after half time playing up the hill and to come back and win the final in the manner we did complete summed up what we’ve been about this season’.
Faversham play in the Spitfire Sevens on Saturday 18th May before their well-earned off-season break. Pre-season restarts on the first Tuesday in July before the club start their journey in Kent 1 at the start of September. Thankfully Swale Borough Council have assured the club that they will have their clubhouse from the start of September, reiterating their desire to support the club moving forward.