Photo coutesy of Inquire Media
Kent Men’s Rugby Second Team outclassed a hard-working Christ Church side in a full-blooded match in Parkwood this afternoon, finishing 38-10 to the good with six tries to Christ Church’s one.
Around 300 fans from both sides turned out to watch a fine game of rugby and the lively atmosphere had the feel of a full-on Varsity contest, with CCCU fans cheering every touch from their team.
The early exuberance was not diminished as Kent pushed CCCU back inside their own 22 for much of the first 15 minutes. This early advantage set the tone for the match as UKC dominated play.
Cries of “forward” from the Kent fans were met with screams of “kill” from some unruly CCCU supporters and Kent were nearly punished as they were caught in possession, but managed to recover and Full Back James Boyce kicked into the corner.
Pushed back on their own six-yard line CCCU made some strong tackles but were unable to prevent Hooker Henry Lunn from scoring. A tough conversion was missed by Fly Half Alex Griffiths.
Mid-way through the first half Kent were forced to defend their own try line with good work from Griffiths to stop the attack.
Around 25 minutes in Boyce made a great 20-yard run into the CCCU 22 as Kent played their way through some stoic resistance from Christ Church’s defence.
UKC were stopped two yards from the try line, but Scrum Half Luke Scheiner got around the back to touch down unopposed.
Then a great kick from Griffiths made it 12-0 to Kent.
After half an hour Outside Centre Henry Gregson finished a fine flowing move on Kent’s left flank following a break. After an easy conversion Kent led 19-0 and Christ Church’s fans began to get desperate.
CCCU matched Kent for physicality but had none of the attacking flair of their opponents, whose concerted movement and solid passing were simply too much for the brave Christ Church lads.
After a ruck on the Kent left flank two yards out, Number Eight Josh Taylor picked up and fought his way through the Christ Church challenges to score. It was a commanding performance from Taylor, who took some heavy tackles as he battled the CCCU players and was always the loudest man on the pitch.
Just before half-time a fight nearly broke out right on the touchline after a strong challenge, but players and officials combined to calm things down.
Christ Church’s inaccurate passing saw several moves break down and Kent’s excellence with the ball was the difference between the two sides throughout the first period.
The crowd was subdued in the second half and the final result felt inevitable, even as CCCU got their first points from a penalty just after the break.
Soon after that Scheiner broke from the CCCU 22 with lightning pace and slipped through the challenges of the hulking Christ Church defenders as if covered in butter, he then sold the last man a perfect dummy and jinked between the sticks.
It was an outstanding display of speed and agility from the Scrum Half who showed great awareness to take advantage of a gap in the CCCU defence for his second try of the match.
Griffiths converted easily but seemed to pick up an injury as Kent took a 31-3 lead.
Half way through the second period Christ Church managed to pin Kent back in their own 22. Taylor rallied the troops, bellowing orders as Kent resisted CCCU time and time again.
Christ Church would not give up and eventually their Openside Flanker got a much-deserved consolation try, which was converted to make it 31-10.
In the last 10 minutes of the game Kent pushed CCCU back to their six-yard line yet again. Scheiner was the architect with a perfect offload from the scrum and the ball was moved nicely to Fly Half Griffiths who went over. Another conversion and it was 38-10.
The game was fully competitive right up to the final whistle, Gregson shimmying forward in the last few minutes under heavy pressure, with vigorous challenges coming in from Christ Church despite the score-line.
CCCU never gave up but could not match the distribution and movement of Kent, who were the better-organised side. UKC’s effortless build-up play was truly a joy to watch, as was the spirited physical performance from both sides.
Boyce was an outlet throughout the match. Whenever Kent felt threatened the big man made powerful runs down the flanks where he was inevitably brought to ground, but not before taking all the pressure off the UKC back line.
UKC Scrum Half Luke Scheiner shone brightest with his superb distribution, movement and awareness. A moment of individual brilliance for his second try capped a faultless performance from the man of the match.
Scheiner said: “Great to be in an unbeaten season in the league and a good performance to finish with so really happy. It’s always a rivalry between the two Canterbury sides so it’s a good way to finish.
“We were very close to the touchline and I called our forwards left, saw a space on the right, head down and just went for it,” recalled Scheiner as he described his first try.
“Tomorrow’s my birthday so I’m heading off home. I’m sure the boys will go out to a pub and celebrate.
“I just want to congratulate all the seniors. Our Captain’s had a really good season and they led us to this undefeated season so really happy. It’s been perfect.”
Kent had the class to build from the back and dominate possession. Their play was smooth and their passing sure. When under pressure the team rallied and their players made strong carries to remove the danger.
Though they threatened at times, Christ Church lacked the finesse of Kent who always looked likely to win. With full-blooded tackles flying in from both sides there will be some sore bodies tomorrow.