Jason Leonard Under 20 National Championship
Kent 36 : 12 Sussex
Kent was represented by players from 14 different clubs in this, their opening under 20 National County Championship match. Opponents Sussex already had a game under their belt following a single point defeat to Hertfordshire in January.
The game kicked off in windy conditions but on an excellent prepared playing surface at Charlton Park RFC.
Both teams looked to play an expansive game, but Kent were in the ascendancy on the back of a strong scrummaging performance. This laid the foundations for tries by Namir Khalil (16 mins) Michael Fankah (20 min) and Maik Timmerman (29 mins). Captain Ben Fryatt, playing out of position at 10, converting the Fankah try to make the score 17-0.
Sussex were not without their chances in that opening half hour but good goal line defence, Noah Lienafa, Ed Marsh and Jack Posey prominent, kept them at bay. Sussex however did respond. The hard-working Finley O’Sullivan receiving a yellow card reducing Kent to 14 men. Sussex took advantage with a 33rd minute unconverted try from centre Dylan Becker.
Kent’s response was to secure the try bonus point with an unconverted Sam Taylor try securing a 22-5 half time lead. This on the back of some powerful carries from Will McCoy, Michael Fankah and Namir Khalil.
The second half saw Kent playing on the front foot on the back of a strong set piece and good ball retention. They soon added to their tally when on 48 minutes Olly Burkett finished well after several phases of play. Fryatt converted. 29-5.
Sussex battled hard and were rewarded with a second try after 52 minutes from Nicholas Fletcher. Ethan Teasdale converted. 29-12.
Both sides looked to play an expansive game Kent’s Presley Farrance providing good continuity and tempo but spirited defence from both sides meant that the final score of the game did not come until the 78th minute. Charlie Galligan closing the game out with the final try and Ben Fryatt adding the conversion to make the final score 36-12.
This was an excellent performance from a group of players who are from so many different clubs and had only one really meaningful preparation session. Kent next travel to Hertfordshire on 27th February looking to secure a home draw in the next round.