Canterbury return to National 2 South promotion play-off place following 27-21 victory over Southend at Merton Lane
Canterbury (black and amber) take on Southend
Canterbury edged-out promotion rivals Southend 27-21 at Merton Lane on Saturday to return to a National 2 South promotion play-off berth.
The city club began brightly with some pacey attacking play but were unable to find a breakthrough, and it was the visitors - who were seeking to complete a league double over the hosts - who took the lead after nine minutes after a turnover in midfield, with Mark Billings racing away to give Tom Gannon a simple try, converted by Brad Burr.
Only handling errors prevented the Essex side from extending their lead, but Canterbury’s pack gradually seized the initiative and the hosts won a penalty, and the catch and drive from the resultant lineout led to a try for Brook Cowan, with Tom Best converting to level the scores before the break.
The hosts began the second half strongly and Guy Hilton split the defence after a dummy and burst through to score, though Best was unable to add the extras.
Best did slot a penalty soon after to make it 15-7, however straight from the restart Canterbury conceded a penalty from which Southend Lee Sandberg collected the ball from a lineout and sneaked through to score, with Burr’s subsequent conversion making it a one-point game.
It took just three minutes for Grant Kay to touch down for the city club, after his kick ahead had been fumbled by the visitors, with Aiden Moss pouncing on the ball before passing to Kay.
However despite Southend replying with a catch-and-drive try from Adam Ferrier, which was converted by Burr to give the visitors a narrow lead, Canterbury asserted themselves in the closing stages and after a series of probing runs from Martyn Beaumont and Best, the crucial fourth try, which secured a bonus point, arrived 11 minutes from time following another drive from a lineout, with Cowan getting the final touch, with Best adding the extras to seal victory.
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