PRATT AD­MITS START IS ALL IM­POR­TANT AGAINST WIM­BLE­DON

SEC­OND-HALF DE­FI­ANCE COUNTS FOR LIT­TLE AS CAN­TER­BURY SLIP TO NINTH DE­FEAT OF NA­TIONAL 2 SOUTH SEA­SON

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Sport -

Can­ter­bury head of rugby Andy Pratt says his side need to hit the ground run­ning when they host sec­ond bot­tom Wim­ble­don on Satur­day. The city side have lost five of their last six matches, leav­ing them 10th in Na­tional 2 South. Pratt wants his side to get an early hold in the match on Satur­day but says Wim­ble­don’s league po­si­tion won’t make his play­ers com­pla­cent. He said: “We won’t take any­thing for granted. They’ve had a cou­ple of big re­sults and I’m sure they will tar­get this match. “We need to have a good start. It’s about start­ing those first five or 10 min­utes well and es­tab­lish­ing our­selves. We, per­haps, didn’t do that against Barn­sta­ple. “We are still pick­ing our­selves up from a long run with­out a win. Get­ting that start right is im­por­tant.” Pratt’s side had trav­elled to Barn­sta­ple in the hope of build­ing on their home win against Old Red­clif­fi­ans the pre­vi­ous week but lost 24-7. The con­di­tions made for a tough match but Pratt was not look­ing for any ex­cuses. He said: “The con­di­tions were not ideal but we also made er­rors. It was not just about size, they had the skill as well.”

Can­ter­bury never came to terms with a Devon mud bath as they sank to their ninth de­feat of the sea­son in Na­tional 2 South, writes David Haigh.

They were out­played by a more di­rect Barn­sta­ple side who mas­tered a test­ing sur­face with ef­fec­tive ball car­ry­ing and surer han­dling.

If there was any con­so­la­tion for the city side it came from their sec­ond-half de­fi­ance which restricted the home side to one try and de­nied them an ex­tra bonus point.

Led by dy­namic No.8 Jar­rard Hayler, the Barn­sta­ple for­wards con­trolled pos­ses­sion after the break, caus­ing prob­lems as they came on to the ball at pace and pinned the city side in their own half.

Can­ter­bury, of­ten static and lack­ing the es­sen­tial phys­i­cal­ity, looked ill-equipped for a sur­face that de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly.

They were only six points be­hind at the half­way point but their lack of bite in attack was al­ready show­ing.

Barn­sta­ple took an eight-point lead in the first quar­ter through that rare sight these days, a drop goal from Gwyn Parks and a try by Luke Berry.

That came after Aaron Cooper was yel­low carded for a high tackle and the wing­man got a sec­ond grab at the ball as a cross kick bounced in the in-goal area.

When the city side es­tab­lished at­tack­ing po­si­tions they could make lit­tle of them but on the half hour mark Dan Smart’s clever an­tic­i­pa­tion earned his side’s first and only points.

The fly- half in­ter­cepted a pass to can­ter over be­tween the posts and leave him­self sim­ple con­ver­sion. In con­di­tions where points were al­ways hard to come by, Barn­sta­ple then made the two scores that mat­tered.

In the fi­nal minute of the first half, the city club’s de­fence was too nar­row, the Devon men found a gap and full-back Jor­dan Pether­bridge fin­ished off with the try.

Three min­utes after the break, Can­ter­bury gave away a penalty which Parks con­verted with a good kick from 44 me­tres out.

After that they were rarely seen as an at­tack­ing force as Barn­sta­ple put on the squeeze and the pres­sure brought an­other, far more straight­for­ward penalty for Parks.

They were still held back by a solid city de­fence but when Hayler broke from a wheeled scrum to send Will Topps over for their third try, it re­ally was game over.

Can­ter­bury con­tin­ued to de­fend bravely, their spirit epit­o­mised by Harry Say­ers bril­liant try-sav­ing tackle which de­nied Barn­sta­ple a bonus point but they had lit­tle else to of­fer. Can­ter­bury: A.moss, A.miller (repl H.say­ers), J.mur­ray, C.kings­man (repl O.best), B.howard, D.smart, K.braithwaite, A.cooper (repl J.green), T.rogers (rel J.otto), S.kenny, J.rigby, D.bai­ley (repl A.wood­ward), M.cantwell.

A late cry-off by Eal­ing left Can­ter­bury Pil­grims with a blank Satur­day.

Ealilng have con­ceded the points but the city side slip to third in Zoo Shield Di­vi­sion 2 on points dif­fer­ence. They are schedu­eld to meet Wim­ble­don 2nds at home this week.

With all other Can­ter­bury sides hav­ing a rest week­end from league ac­tion, only the first team played on Satur­day.

Whit­stable were with­out a fix­ture in Shep­herd Neame Kent 2 last week­end but they re­sume their pro­mo­tion chal­lenge at home to Faver­sham on Satur­day (2pm).

The Blues sur­ren­dered the lead­er­ship when they lost at Foots Cray last time out but player-coach Mal Graves hopes re­turn­ing to ac­tion with a derby will help ‘fo­cus the play­ers’ minds.’

He said: “Games against Faver­sham are usu­ally com­pet­i­tive and I don’t ex­pect this week­end will be any dif­fer­ent.”

Pic­ture: Phillipa Hil­ton

Can­ter­bury’s Harry Say­ers tries to break through at Barn­sta­ple on Satur­day

Pic­ture: Phillipa Hil­ton

Can­ter­bury dou­ble up in their ef­forts to halt Barn­sta­ple on Satur­day

Pic­tures: Phillipa Hil­ton

Can­ter­bury’s Harry Say­ers up­ends a Barn­sta­ple opp­po­nent dur­ing Satur­day’s de­feat, and left, demon­strates his pace in this touch­line break

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