On Sunday Kent secured a National County Championship Under 20 semi-final place against Yorkshire with an excellent hard fought victory over their visitors from Devon.
However it was not without issues as Kent’s plans were disrupted even before the kick off when strong wing Sam Taylor pulled up with a muscle injury in the warm up. Cameron McCauley coming in to replace him.
The game kicked off in excellent playing conditions. Kent started sharply and were soon on the board. After just 5 minutes it was a smartly taken try from Pressley Farrance. This following some good driving play from the forwards. Ben Fryatt converted for a 7-0 lead.
Devon came back strongly. Some errant kicking from Kent allowed Devon good field position and they took advantage with tries from Winters and Smale inside just 3 minutes with McKee converting one. 7-12.
Devon were dominating open play and looking sharper at the breakdown. After 23 minutes Kent’s efforts were hampered when they went down to 14 men with the hard working Galligan shown a yellow card.
Devon continued to dominate open play but the home pack were starting to get the upper hand in the set piece. Despite this the only other score of the first half came on the final play when Bayley went over from short range. McKee was on target to make the half time score 7-19.
Kent were up against it. They came out for the second half knowing they had to up their game if they were to stay in the competition. And they did!
Strong running and scrummaging from all the forwards especially from Will McColl, Maik Timmerman, Michael Fankah and Khalil gave Kent front foot ball.
On 45 minutes Will McColl’s efforts were rewarded when he powered over from short range. Ben Fryatt converted. 14-19.
With the Kent scrum getting the upper hand the 56th minute saw Namir Khalil touch down after a superb 5 metre scrum. Again Ben Fryatt converted for Kent to lead 21-19. A excellent come back.
The Kent forwards were now in the ascendency. Finley O’Sullivan was bossing the line out and the scrummaging continued to put Devon on the back foot. Ed Marsh coming on for Alex Ringshall. Piero Noah replacing Charlie Galligan. McCourt Welsh replacing Will McColl ensured that the forward dominance continued.
Photo images by Ian Carter
On 59 minutes Pressley Farrance was on the scorecard again. Good lead up work from Fankah and Harvey Furneaux ensured Farrance was on hand to take advantage of some slack defending out wide. The try was unconverted to leave the score at 26-19.
Having dominated the first half Devon were keen to get back into the game after the second half opening blitz from Kent. They did so when in the 70th minute Cameron Johnson, Devons stand out player, eventually found enough space to let his class show and he scored an unconverted try in the corner to make the score 26-24.
It was all to play for in the last 10 minutes. On 74 minutes Kent secured good field position and won a scrum 5 metres out. With their dominant scrum they drove for the line. Devon infringed and the referee awarded a penalty try. 33-24.
Devon came straight back when replacement prop Pengelly crashed over from short range. No conversion left the score at 33-29. From the kick off an error from Kent gave Devon good field position and a scrum.
A delay in play saw the attacking scrum for Devon now become an uncontested affair with Devon citing front row issues. Kent then had to defend their line from Devon’s uncontested platform deep into injury time. Back rowers Gibbons and Ward were added to provide additional mobility to fend off the Devon attack. They, together with the rest of the team, did so to secure the win and a semi-final place.
This was an excellent win. The set piece dominance of Kent against the powerful backs of Devon. Kent’s backs met the challenge and all performed well to keep their counterparts at bay. Dawadu was excellent on the wing. Burkett, Trew-Nevill and Revell battled hard in midfield against Devons primary strength. Cohen with the support of Halliday and McCauley defended well and were a threat on the counter-attack.
Kent host favourites Yorkshire in the National semi-final on Easter Sunday April 17th at Charlton Park RFC kick off 2pm.