Crowborough made the second of their three scheduled, two hour journeys to the North East Kent coast, this time to Broadstairs to take on Thanet Wanderers, in this London League Div 2 SE encounter.
‘Boro did not travel well last time they visited Kent, narrowly losing out to Dover. This time Crowborough were anxious not to let the opposition dominate the early exchanges, and although the pitch was ripe for an expansive open game, it became clear early on that the ‘Boro pack had the edge, with fitness, technique, and leadership in abundance.
The developing game plan saw the pack assert themselves in the tight, and by recycling the ball and denying any meaningful possession to the home side, it was only a matter of time before ‘Boro crossed the line through captain, and ultimate “Man of the Match” Matt Botterman, who was subsequently to claim four more tries courtesy of his accomplished pack, and in particular the solid and uncompromising play of his front row of Richard Tasker, Alex Purnell and Mark Rosier. The try was converted by Ollie Clinch 0-7.
Two more tries by Matt Botterman and a conversion by Ollie Clinch followed in quick succession before Thanet got onto the scoreboard to make the score 5-19 at the break.
A push over try by ‘Boro pack, saw Matt Botterman claim number his fourth, but this appeared to be the catalyst that saw the Thanet packs frustration erupt, when the excellent Thanet #7 was shown a yellow card for a late hit on Ollie Clinch, subsequently punished by yet another forward’s try, this time by Andy Orchard, converted by Ollie Clinch. 5-29
To their credit, Thanet one man down, continued to make a game of it, and after an excellent passage of backs play crossed the line for a converted try. 12-29.
With the number seven restored to the field Thanet were soon back to fourteen men, when the #8 was shown yellow for another high tackle. With limited defence in the back row, the gaps appeared and a grateful Matt Botterman claimed his fifth try for Ollie Clinch to convert. 12-36
At this point Mitch Malherbe collected his yellow card, taking one for the team, as ‘Boro repeatedly transgressed in the face of a determined Thanet attack. The Thanet #8 returned only to collect a second yellow and a red card for handling in the ruck.
This gave the #8 and Mitch Malherbe the opportunity to watch the try of the match as ‘Boro attacked out of defence with forwards and backs combining, sweeping from one side of the pitch to the other, with off-loads, support and precise running lines that ended with Lloyd Smith scoring out wide. 12-41
Mitch Malherbe then returned, and clearly inspired by what had just taken place, proceeded to get his name on the score sheet with some direct running and side stepping a large number of tackles, With Ollie Clinch being replaced late on, Connor Hand stepped up to convert the last try of the match. The game finished with a well deserved 12-48 win.
This Saturday third placed Crowborough, welcome league leaders Beccahamians, who have taken all 15 points from their first three matches. This will be ‘Boro’s biggest test so far, and with ‘Becs recording the “double” over ‘Boro the previous season, and riding high in the early days of this campaign, they will surely fancy their chances, although the hosts may tend to disagree!
Match Report by Rick Howe.