Beckenham travelled down to Deal and Betteshanger hoping to maintain their unbeaten run in the league after a much changed side was knocked out of the cup away at Romford and Gidea Park the previous week.
Beckenham knew the lions would be a stern test, having run numerous quality teams close in the league this season. Beckenham were confident though and the day started well, with Ebenezer Ikediashi arriving early for the first time in the clubs history.
It was a beautiful warm day on the Kent coast with little wind and dry ground, it provided perfect conditions for a game of rugby. The game started slowly for Beckenham, Deal put Beckenham under pressure early with a hanging kick off. However early indiscipline allowed Beckenham to exit. Unfortunately Beckenham couldn't capitalise on this, with numerous line outs going through the jumpers hands much to the frustration of the team. This allowed Deal to exit easily close to their line. The early ill-discipline continued, with Deal conceding a penalty on halfway in front of the posts. This provided Louis Richards the opportunity to slot a 50m penalty to give the Blue and Gold their first points of the game. 3-0 Beckenham
It took the lions two minutes to roar back into action, another high hanging restart was gathered and well cleared by Beckenham. From the over thrown line out Deal react quickest and after some strong carries, their blindside and eventual man of the match Adam Michael powered over for his first try of the day, with the fly half adding the extras. Making it 7-3 to Deal.
It didn't taken Beckenham long to get back to their stride however! A penalty catch and drive forced the lions to infringe, collapsing it short of the line. The forwards took it upon themselves to carry from close finishing off with a strong carry by James Blackmorewho crashed over from close range. Deal down to 14 and Beckenham leading 8-7, as Richards was unable to convert.
Beckenham tried build some phases and get some momentum in the game but a loose carry gave away position quickly and again deal reacted quickest to move the ball wide. Adam Michael was the welcome recipient and the flanker impressively finished to go over for his second of the game, giving the lions the lead once again.
Beckenham then saw a period of sustained pressure, with a number of tries coming in quick succession. The first came from another strong driving maul and a break off from Graham Murray saw him barrel over from close range to regain the lead for Beckenham’s once again. The second score quickly followed, with a slick backs move putting JP Santamaria in for his first of 3 for the day.
3 minutes later after exiting well a loose return kick from Deal, was well countered by Mike Furness who put James Currthrough for a 2 on 1, with Curr calmly popping off to Hans Laud-Anderson who dived over for his first try of the season! Louis Richards converting all three scores.
As expected, with Deal at home they weren't going to lie down. They once again came back into action and put Beckenham under sustained pressure, which eventually culminated in them sneaking over just before half time to narrow the gap to 10. Making it 19-29 to Beckenham at half time.
The visiting side headed in at half time, knowing the game could easily go either way! The underlining statement at half time being that we had to score first, knowing from previous years that Deal would be in it until the 80th minute otherwise.
Beckenham did what was asked, and came quickly out the blocks in the second half. The first score of the half came from a number of phases which created space for JP Santamaria, who snuck over to score in the corner.
Midway through the second half, Beckenham managed to set up camp deep in the Deals half, but as you'd expect from Deal, they defended valiantly keeping Beckenham at bay. Changes were made by both sides with fresh legs brought on in both front rows. These changes allowed Beckenham to get the nudge on at the next scrum and again after some strong carries and an advantage in hand, the backline put JP Santamaria away for his third.
Beckenham’s final score of the game came from another slick line out, which provided Josh Smith with the platform to crash over from 15 meters. Louis Richards was able to convert from out wide bringing up the 50 for Beckenham, a first ever against Deal!
The final score of the game however went to Deal however, who finished the game strongly! Ill-discipline from the visiting team allowed he Lions to set up a driving maul, the resulting pick was used well, with the ball offloaded to Adam Michael who went over for a deserving hat trick.
FT – Deal 26-50 Beckenham
MOM – JP Santamaria
Although a high score for Beckenham, praise must go to Deal who were disruptive in defence and produced a number of strong carries in attack, never lying down to make it an 80 minute battle, with the bonus point well deserved in the end.
The result is a true testament to how we far we have come as a club this season and the culture we are trying to build is evident on and off the field, with players stepping up during difficult periods.
Next Week we return home to Balmoral Avenue, where we have the pleasure of welcoming newly promoted Aylesford Bulls. The Bulls are sure to be high on confidence having impressively recorded their first victory of the season against Maidstone.