Canterbury 29-20 Tonbridge Juddians
Canterbury 29-20 Tonbridge Juddians

As a confidence booster this Canterbury bonus point win could not have been better timed after the struggles of the previous week.

They outscored their Kent rivals by five tries to two but could never shake them off entirely and only sealed matters six minutes from the end of a hugely competitive match.

What turned the dust of an opening day defeat into gold was a massive improvement in the work of the pack.  The scrum was solid, bigger numbers were committed to the rucks and a working platform was built for an adventurous back division.

The city side were always ahead after Ricky Mackintosh’s blistering close range finish brought a try as early as the fourth minute and they went on to build a 17-10 half time lead.

A controlled catch and drive set up a second from hooker Tristan King, converted by Harvey Young, and the backs opened up space to usher Mackintosh across the line again just before the break.  The city side missed out on pushing further ahead after a TJs error led to a kick and chase, but JJ Murray was judged to have been in front of the kicker as he touched down under the posts.

While Canterbury dominated much of the possession the visitors made the most of their chances to stay close. Will Robinson opened their account with a penalty goal and he was on target again after a turnover in midfield led to wing Hugo Watson cashing in with a 30th minute try.

TJs threatened another score immediately after the break but Canterbury survived and then turned the tables spectacularly. Precise handling opened up the left flank to give full back Aiden Moss space he exploits so well and the full back raced in from 40 metres to leave Young a simple conversion.

If that gave the city side a measure of comfort it did not last.  TJs entered their most dominant phase of the game as their pack built pressure on the  city defence. They did well to limit the damage to a Robinson penalty goal but a yellow card for Royce Cadman proved costly.

Number Eight Will Colderick’s try, converted by Robinson, gave the visitors fresh impetus and the gap was down to four points.

But there was resilience in this Canterbury effort and they gathered themselves to win a decisive penalty. The catch and drive rolled forward and prop Jim Green burrowed over to complete a therapeutic victory.

Canterbury: A.Moss (repl O.Best), R.Mackintosh, T.Best, S.Sterling, JJ Murray (repl C.Grimes), H.Young, D.Smart, A.Cooper (repl J.Green),  T.King, S.Kenny, R.Cadman, M.Corker, M.Cantwell (repl J.Stephens), S.Roche, T.Oliver (repl J.Otto).

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.