Canterbury v Redruth match report
Canterbury 20 Redruth 12
REDRUTH'S promotion chances suffered a possibly fatal blow as they suffered back to back defeats for the first time this season.
And to make matters worse, there was a second red card of the season for scrum half Greg Goodfellow, which could well end his campaign and a further hamstring injury for top try scorer Tom Duncan, which will leave head coach Adrian Edwards and his fellow coaches with plenty of work to do to get the team back on track.
The Reds began slowly and a disappointing opening 20 minutes saw them fall 12 points behind, despite having the advantage of the slope and the wind at their backs and they never really recovered.
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Forwards coach Ashley Morcom said: "It was a bit disappointing in the first half. You cannot give a side like Canterbury that big a lead when they will have the wind behind them.
"We knew what Canterbury were about and we had a game plan but it did not pay off.
"We had a strong wind to our backs and possibly we should have kicked more but we were getting into areas too close to the line to kick the ball away. We have talked all year about keeping the ball and trying to play.
"I have just spoken with Mattie Steward (Canterbury coach) who told me that was the best they had played around ruck time this season.
"They spent a lot of time on it this week because they knew what we were about. They really did their home work on us and I think we took them a bit lightly really.
"It was very disappointing, you cannot take anything away from it. We under performed and maybe they over performed.
"Maybe we should have kicked the corners more. We did it once and they struggled to get out and we won a penalty from it. Our game plan was not quite right."
This was Redruth's first visit to Merton Lane, on the outskirts of the city, a mile or so down the Nackington Road from the St Lawrence ground, home of Kent cricket.
After snow and heavy rain in the week, the ground was soft, though the rain stopped not long after the Reds arrived, but a strong cold wind blew straight down the slope at a ground with very little cover.
Heavily beaten by fellow promotion contenders Henley last week, Canterbury gave the visitors first use of the elements in front of a small crowd.
In a slow start, Redruth conceded a couple of penalties and a big gap opened up in the midfield defence as David Devlin-Jones cut through to create a try in the left hand corner for Kwaku Asiedu. Scott Browne converted and Redruth were 7-0 after only three minutes
For much of the opening quarter Canterbury, prompted by Fiji's most capped player Nicky Little, kept the Reds on the back foot as their forwards certainly took the game to the Reds' pack and some quick passing stretched the visitors' defence.
Redruth had hardly been out of their own half, when prop Jim Green touched down after some pick and drive plays after 19 minutes.
When Redruth did get some ball to push Canterbury back onto their line, they started to show what they were about, forcing Canterbury into conceding two penalties as they were unable to get out of their 22 for a five minute spell.
On the Reds' tight head, John Drew, a farmer's boy on his first start, settled well and a strong surge by the Redruth pack at a five metre scrum gave Duncan the chance to power through Little's tackle to touchdown an unconverted try after 25 minutes – the young giant's 19th try of the season.
Unfortunately, for the Reds they could not get position to get another score before the break and Duncan was forced to hobble off, with Jake Rayment, who has just celebrated his 18th birthday, taking his place, and the teenager got stuck in straight way.
At the restart Browne kicked the ball into the Reds 22 and they were unable to find a way out.
Following some good handling, Canterbury skipper Wim Baars dived over in the left hand corner for his 12th try of the season to restore a 12 point cushion for the hosts.
To Redruth's credit, they responded with 10 minutes of the quality rugby they have been playing for much of the season.
Owen Hambly got through a tremendous amount of work in the back row and Goodfellow from a scrum went on one of his arcing runs, but he could not find the right pass for Tom Notman on the touchline.
But they did find a way through when Fraser Kellythorn came in from the wing and ran strongly to touch down under the posts. Paul Thirlby converted to bring Redruth back into the game at just 17-12 down with nearly 30 minutes to go.
The game was then marred by a foolish incident on 56 minutes, after Redruth had been awarded a penalty, which led to red cards for Goodfellow and Canterbury flanker Jesse Liston.
There will be repercussions for both players, in particular for Liston, who has just been selected for the South East U20s.
A penalty from in front of the posts by Brown on 61 minutes, following a high tackle by the Reds, made the game safe for the home side and denied the visitors even a losing bonus point.
Brown was later sent to the sin bin and Redruth, with Thirlby playing at scrum half, had plenty of possession in the final quarter, but it was all deep in their own half and they were unable to mount a challenge for a bonus point to end a disappointing day.
They will be hoping to get back to winning form this Saturday when they travel to play Dings Crusaders (2pm).