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Canterbury 33-30 Sevenoaks
Canterbury 33-30 Sevenoaks

From the comfort of a fifteen point second half lead Canterbury ended up clinging on for this important National 2 East victory.

With both sides hovering on the fringes of the relegation battle there was plentyat stake and Sevenoaks’ domination of the final 20 minutes marked themout as likely winners.  

Instead they were restricted to a second bonus point, earned with a try in the last minute, thanks to Canterbury’s massive defensive effort and astute changes from the bench at a timewhen the city club were hit with two yellow cards and a sending off.  

As the Duke of Wellington said after that long ago skirmish at Waterloo, “it was the nearest run thing you ever saw.”  

Surviving the late siege was not the only challenge Canterbury had to overcome as the sharp and focused visitors made a flying start and were twelve points ahead after only eight minutes.

Tries from Henry Galligan and Jonny Short, plus a Ben Adams conversion, were helped by suspect tackling. When Canterbury came alive, however, they were just as effective in finding holes and won a four try bonus point by half time.

A midfield break by scrum half Ben Cooper made the first incision before Lewis Hollidge’s opening try. 

Continuing pressure saw Oaks leaking penalties and when Frank Reynolds spotted space on the right his cross kick  bounced into Cameron Murray’s path. 

Oaks pulled back three points with an Adams penalty goal but they could not stop a driving maul which ended in Eoin O’Donoghue touching down. 

Jamie Stephens rounded off close quarter work from a clever pop pass to register the fourth and with three conversions from Reynolds, who passed the 100 point mark for the season, the earlier damage was repaired. 

When Cooper ran in the opening try of the second half, after good attacking work in mid-field, and Reynolds topped it up the cityside  looked firmly in the driving seat. 

But the lively visitors soon reminded them that if you don’t fasten the safety belt you are unwise and they took control of possession and territory.

Adams kicked his second penalty goal then converted Short’s second try on 60 minutes and Canterbury now had a dog fight on their hands. Losing Danny Herriott and Stephens to the sin bin and Tom Best to a red card, put their discipline under scrutiny but their defiance and commitment left Sevenoaks no more time after Galligan’s last ditch score.

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.