Kent had to survive a late challenge before completing victory in the opening round of the County Championship’s Bill Beaumont Cup as two tries in the space of a minute by North Midlands reduced a comfortable lead to a precarious ten points.
It needed a 75th minute try, Kent’s seventh of the afternoon, to re-establish their grip on a game which they controlled for significant periods but did not make best use of their chances.
Given a decent platform by a dominant scrum the county took an early lead with a try from prop Terry Read, converted by James Cameron, but a lack of accuracy cost them further scores and it wasn’t until late in the first half that they got some reward.
North Midlands, despite a shortage of possession, were always sharp on the counter and were on level terms, thanks to a converted try by wing Tom Hunt, until three minutes from the break. Tries by Harry Sayers and Kwaku Asiedu, plus a Cameron conversion, then stretched Kent’s lead to 19-7 and they threatened to run away with the game early in the second half
The visitors, handicapped by their second yellow card, saw Cameron’s break set up a try for JJ Murrray and Asiedu followed it up by grabbing his second. Slack defensive work allowed Cameron Tawfik to repair some of the damage for North Midlands before Aiden Moss moved Kent back into the comfort zone with his side’s sixth try
If Kent felt the job was done they were made to think again as the visitors shredded their defence in 71st and 72nd minutes to put themselves into serious contention.
Tries for Ashley Elvers and a second from Hunt, together with Rod Pettit’s flawless goal kicking, brought a major shift in impetus.
Kent, however, reacted well to the threat and JJ Murray’s second touchdown, and Cameron’s fourth successful conversion, saw them home.
Maximum points for Kent on Saturday as the county side defeated North Midlands in the opening match of their 2016 Bill Beaumont Division Two campaign.
Terry Read drove across on five minutes to open the scoring as Kent had the better of the early physical exchanges, but a breakaway score for Bromsgrove full-back Tom Hunt drew the Midlanders level at 7-7 in the 26th minute.
However, continuing to enjoy the benefit of the Merton Lane slope, Harry Sayers and Kwaku Asiedu added further tries for the hosts, and with James Cameron adding a second conversion, Kent led 19-7 at the break.
The try bonus point arrived four minutes after the re-start as JJ Murray crossed, a second from Asiedu stretching the advantage further, and although Luctonians flanker Cameron Tawfik grabbed one back for the visitors, Aiden Moss went over on 64 minutes to keep the host county in command at 36-14.
An unlikely comeback threatened as two tries in three minutes from Stourbridge centre Ashley Elvers and then Hunt, with Stourbridge fly-half Tom Petty adding the conversions, briefly brought North Midlands back into contention, as Kent lost some shape and concentration with replacements arriving off the bench. But the focus was quickly re-established as Murray crossed for a second time to see the hosts safely to victory.
Kent travel to Hyde Park, home of Taunton RFC, next Saturday to take on Somerset who lost 39-10 at Teignmouth against Devon. Medway RFC will then provide the venue for Kent’s final pool match against Devon on 21st May.
Tries: Read, Sayers, Asiedu 2, Murray 2, Moss
Conv: Cameron 4
Tries: Hunt 2, Tawfik, Elvers
Cons: Petty 4
15. Moss A Canterbury RFC
14. Asiedu K Canterbury RFC
13. Sayers H Canterbury RFC
12. Bonner D Westcombe Park RFC
11. Hamilton D Blackheath FC
10. Cameron J Westcombe Park RFC
9. Edwards C Elthamians RFC
1. Green J Canterbury RFC
2. Bonner J (Capt) Westcombe Park RFC
3. Read T Blackheath FC
4. Bellinger L Westcombe Park RFC
5. Cadman R Canterbury RFC
6. Scorgie T Elthamians RFC
7. Covington L Westcombe Park RFC
8. Lindfield J Westcombe Park RFC
16. Wakefield N Canterbury RFC
17. Porter N Westcombe Park RFC
18. Cantwell M Canterbury RFC
19. Conlon R Westcombe Park RFC
20. R White Elthamians RFC
21. Murray JJ Tonbridge Juddians RFC
22. Okenla T Gravesend RFC
Sat 14th May: Somerset v Kent – Taunton RFC
Sat 21st May: Kent v Devon – Medway RFC