Beckenham start 2019 with 5 points
By Michael Timms
Rusty Beckenham pushed all the way by resilient Wanderers.
The first game back for the broncos after the Christmas break was a long bus journey down the M2 to Thanet wanders currently sitting 9th in the league.
Thanet started the stronger of the two teams with Beckenham coughing up possession after claiming the restart and over playing the ball around half way. The loose ball was picked up by the Thanet 10, who put in a dangerous kick in behind resulting in a scrum 5 to Thanet. Beckenham being camped in their own 22 For numerous phases the broncos were adamant not to concede the first points, you could sense the “we are still on the bus” call about to be yelled from someone any minute. Thanet were unable to turn the possession into points with Beckenham forcing the home team into touch only to be brought back for a high tackle.
During the defensive set, No.8 James Blackmore who has been formidable in Beckenham’s campaign so far, went down with what later was assessed as a torn bicep, Rion Clark fortune was his replacement. Thanet with the tails up chose to go for a line out. A drive from Thanet saw the ball over the line but only to be held up by the Beckenham forward pack. The next scrum Beckenham won the ball back after a good drive from props James Cleverly and Graham Murray, who both put in outstanding performances in the front row. Unfortunately, next phase just inside the 22m line a penalty was conceded for holding on and Thanet chose for a shot at goal but was missed by the fullback hitting the left upright. Josh Smith claimed the ball in the dead ball area and instead of choosing to kick the ball out of his trusty/rusty right foot and passed to Craig Thompson who was able to clear Beckenham’s lines.
The following 10 minutes was filled with errors from both sides, with neither side really putting phases together. Beckenham then started to get some traction, centre Louis Richards pinning kicks into the corners. It was from a resulting lineout that Beckenham got their first score. An over throw from Thanet saw no7 Hans Laud-Anderson gather the ball and surge into the oppositions 22 pulling up short about 10m out, it was now a chance for Beckenham to be clinical and so the forward pack were unleashed and after numerous phases, sucking in the Thanet defenders the ball was shipped to Jamie McDowell who called the overlap and put a lovey looping miss pass over the last defender for Michael Furness to score the first of his brace. Conversion missed by Louis Richards who had a tough day of the Tee, in tricky conditions. 0-5
The restart was claimed by Rion Clark fortune who had a good carry putting Beckenham on the front foot. Some destructive carries by James Cleverly and Graham Murray followed, compounding a penalty at the ruck and Beckenham once again had a chance to punish Thanet’s Ill-discipline. The lineout was called by the blue and gold. The line out was caught, Thanet however had done their research, choosing to stand off the maul, however Beckenham cleverly kept the ball at the front and powered over for their second try, much to Thanet’s dismay.
Beckenham must have been positive they could push on, but after a useful kick from the Thanet 10, Beckenham found themselves under pressure once again, unable to clear their lines. A strong carry from the no.12 got them beyond the gain line and close to the 5m line. Quick ball from the breakdown and Beckenham were left short on the open side! A quick pick at the ruck saw a score in the corner from the Thanet 15, which he then also converted, making the score 7-10 to Beckenham.
The half continued with no scores for either team, with the remaining minutes full of dropped balls and scrappy set pieces, with not much pressure being exerted from either side.
Half time 7-10.
The second half started, and Thanet were first out the block. Taking the kick off they surged into the Beckenham half and were lucky not to concede from a Crossfield kick. Luckily winger Mike Furness was well positioned to cover. The following phases saw more pressure from Thanet, with the powerful centres being utilised well. However powerful from Josh Smith and Alex Jones kept Thanet at bay. With Beckenham’s defence holding strong, Thanet running out of ideas tried the grubber kick through, however this was well gathered by Jamie McDowell and a phase later the ball was cleared by Louis Richards.
Further attacks were snuffed out by the ever present Alex Jones who turned the ball over and two carries by the big men James Cleverly and Graham Murray saw Beckenham reach half way. Like the first half Beckenham couldn’t capitalise on their field position or possession. After the clean line out from the forwards the backs missread in midfield resulted in the next breakdown being turned over by Thanet wanders.
The next 15 minutes saw a few aimless kicks from either side and a high penalty count from both teams struggling to get a grip on the game. Thanet with a sweeping move around half way looked promising but was shut down by centre James Curr and, with help from winger JP Santamaria, the Thanet player was bundled into touch. The remaining 15 minutes saw the game suddenly spark into life.
From the the lineout Beckenham strung numerous phases together stretching the Thanet defence and pushing the ball from side to side. After penetrating the 22m with carries from Josh Smith and Andrew Knowles saw the ball flicked on the inside to full back Keita Orelaja. The next phase proved vital and a lovely out the back pass from Louis Richards fixed the defenders which set up a two on one with James Curr, popping off to Mike Furness to grab his second. Conversion missed 7-15.
Beckenham started to pull away and with the bonus point in sight, the 4th try came in good fashion and with a touch of class. A big hit in midfield dislodged the ball, which was picked up by the bucking bronco that is Andrew Pig Knowles, opening his stride he showed his class to dart a 20 meters to then feed Louis Richards who chose to kick through ,to Jamie McDowall who with a beautiful pick up secured the bonus point and the celebrations could start, with the home support falling silent. Louis Richards added the conversion to make it 7-22.
Following this Thanet were adamant no to let this be the finish, having been on top for large periods of the game. After more ill-discipline and more penalties, Thanet had a lineout in the Beckenham half, a clever run down the blind side gained them momentum and a few phases later Thanet went over. With the Kick being added to make it 14-22.
Beckenham keen to not let Thanet back into the game replied with another set of flowing phases and carry’s deep into the Thanet half. Substitute Jordan DeHaart with a decisive break put the broncos on the front foot and three phases later with numbers to spare Alex Jones put in James Curr, who crashed over in the corner to make the score 14-27.
With a few minutes left the game witnessed an outstanding solo try from the Thanet 10, who sliced through the Beckenham back line from a scrum just outside the 22m stepping his way past numerous blue and gold defenders. The conversion was missed. 19-27.
With the last play coming from the kick off, all Beckenham needed to do was to kill the game. Thanet had other ideas! more ill-discipline set Beckenham heading backwards and the momentum was with the home team. A good off load and a clean line break and Thanet were through 2v1 one against the full back but out of nowhere an outstanding cover tackle by centre James Curr stopped the attack, however ill-discipline at the ruck forced the penalty and with the time in the red, Thanet wanders settled for a more than well-deserved losing bonus point.
A tough start to the year for Beckenham, with significant credit going to Thanet, for what was an impressive display. A great game of rugby for any neutral spectators. I would also like to take the time to thank all at Thanet for their assistance with the Injury to Rion Clarke-Fortune. The medical staff were exceptional! We are glad to say it was just a dislocation, no fractures.
Next week we welcome Charlton Park to Balmoral avenue for a top of the table clash. With the two sides drawing 20-20 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, this is sure to be an exciting game of rugby. A big crowd would be massively appreciated!