Sheppey Development Squad kick started their season with a friendly against a strong Canterbury representational side. Sheppey without numerous members of their back division had to use several of their forwards in unconventional positions.
The game kicked off with Sheppey looking to use their forward power all over the pitch and this proved dividends with deep incursions made by Jack Smith and Ben Hollick playing in the centres, unfortunately as expected with the lay off for the summer, the final execution was not always as clinical as it will be later in the season. The first score therefore came off the base of a 15 yard scrum. With Canterbury putting in, Sheppey drove straight and stole one against the head. Alex Nicholls the new captain, sensed the Canterbury defence retreating and fended off two tacklers to claim the try. 5-0 Sheppey.
Dan Martin scored the second try shortly after the restart when prolonged pressure in the opponents 22 saw him take a short pop ball from 5 yards out for him to crash over. 10-0 Sheppey.
The game then saw a period where Sheppey controlled the game nicely with scrum-half Shephard and fly half JK running things efficiently. It was therefore a shock to end the half 10-7, following a Canterbury backs move which saw the centres play the ball out wide before cutting back inside and scoring close to the posts.
The resumption of play started similarly to the last 20 minutes of the first half with Sheppey playing in the oppositions territory, it was therefore demoralising to see a break out try scored by Canterbury to take the lead 10 -14.
Sheppey toiled hard for the next ten minutes and spawned numerous chances due to players not quite clicking before Jack Smith took a pass on the charge from 5 yards out to dot down. 15-14 Sheppey.
Canterbury seemed to work out that while the Sheppey back division was strong with ball in hand, their positional play due to new players and players out of position was not as watertight as it could have been. They therefore moved the ball away from their forwards and started to play a wider more expansive gain. After going close on several occasions, with only last gasp tackles from new players such as Dan Kew they went over to take the lead 15-21.
Sheppey rose to the challenge and showed the spirit that at times last year seemed at times to go missing. With the final minutes beckoning and Sheppey camped on the Canterbury try line, Yanni pushed over to make it 19-21.
Sheppey having missed all previous conversation attempts saw Tony Miles put his hand up to take the kick. While it can’t be said to be the most beautiful of attempts it was successful and saw Sheppey enter the last minute one point up at 22-21.
With only the requirement to regain the ball off the restart to win the game, the Canterbury back who provided the chase produced a magnificent leap to take control and put Canterbury in the driving seat. With several infringements from kickable range it appeared that Sheppey would just lose out. However Canterbury decided to run the penalties and the game ultimately ended when a Canterbury player was held up over the try line. A hard fought win 22-21.
Trevor Lawry, Development Squad Coach spoke after the game “We needed that, at times we looked as though we could break free, although we lacked the clinical aspect of the game which I am sure will come. It was extremely pleasing to see the character of the team show up, coupled with new players coming through. If today is anything to go by the season for this squad promises to be a bright one.”
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Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.