A scratch Cranbrook 15 with several changes from that which acquitted itself so well last week against Ashford was undone by a vibrant, fast, strong, well coached, and highly skilled home team, but gained much credit for their team spirit and resilience against this accomplished Canterbury team.
On another perfect afternoon on a good looking pitch Cranbrook kicked off against a very light breeze up the slight slope. It became apparent very quickly that the well drilled home team would be a handful as good offloading put the very fast fullback in for the first of his 4 tries. He clearly had something to prove as we were informed, he had underperformed for their first team last week. Tries came regularly in the first half hour as the forwards were getting over the gain line to set the backs free. Although there were a few missed tackles it was more their passing out of the tackle that created opportunities that was so impressive, something the whole team demonstrated.
Cranbrook had not much of the ball in the first half hour as the game was almost totally in their half but were competing well at the scrum and managed with some difficulty to retain most lineout ball. Towards the interval Cranbrook had more of the ball and right wing Wilf Sellick made ground from deep with a good run. They even threatened a score when penalties put them in position, but the home defence was secure for a halftime score of 40-0.
In the second half Cranbrook with the slope started better and got into good position from a long Fabian Rimmer kick to touch from a penalty. A nice backs move ended with a knock on, but Cranbrook were competing well. Unfortunately, Sellick was carded for a high tackle and soon Canterbury created an overlap on his wing to score after 55 minutes. This though was the first score for nearly half an hour which showed how spirited a performance this was by Cranbrook. Although a couple more tries were soon scored by a combination of good offloading and missed tackles as the visitors understandably tired as the game reached the last quarter. Canterbury now had a player carded and Cranbrook had their best spell of the game as repeated forward drives almost produced a score until referee Mr David Harris, who had a sound game, penalised the ball carrier for not releasing.
Canterbury did score three more tries, most notably when in a change of tactics, a fine accurate cross kick from midfield put the speedy full back in again. Cranbrook though were noticeably still competing well and had some phases of play. The good spirit and unquenchable resolve of XV was well demonstrated when in the last play of the game Rimmer achieved a trademark turnover.
So ended the game at 76-0. It was great to see James Yeomans playing again after his nasty injury, also Louis Stone and the coaches will look forward to further returnees in the coming weeks. It was noticeable how upbeat the atmosphere was after the game as the coaches rightly accentuated the positives.
Match report by Philip Rimmer