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Clifton 22 Canterbury 19: National League 2 South match report


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By David Haigh

Canterbury might have fancied a surprise victory on a ground where they have seldom tasted success - but their second-half efforts were not quite enough in a 22-19 National League 2 South defeat at Clifton.

A chance of victory didn’t look likely in the early stages when, after only three minutes, Clifton’s influential No.8, Brad Talbot, drove over from close range and a Luke Cozens conversion gave then the ideal start.

Canterbury's Alex Evans powers forward against Clifton. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Canterbury's Alex Evans powers forward against Clifton. Picture: Phillipa Hilton

But Canterbury quickly regathered themselves, built phases and responded with a smartly-taken try from Frank Reynolds after good work from half-back partner Ben Cooper.

At this stage it was Clifton who were clearly happier to play the wide channels, despite the biting northerly wind, and with fly-half Cozens expertly pulling the strings they always looked dangerous.

They struck again after a promising run from Canterbury centre Frank Morgan. The ball was stolen and full-back Alex Forrester gathered to run from deep in his own half and put winger Finlay Sharp over.

Worse was to follow as Canterbury threatened again. Another good line break from Morgan looked to have created a try-scoring opportunity, but when the move fell apart it was Forrester who again broke upfield. After some excellent interplay, winger Bentley Halpin crossed and Cozens converted.

Tristan King shows strength to evade a Clifton challenge. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Tristan King shows strength to evade a Clifton challenge. Picture: Phillipa Hilton

With Clifton still playing the conditions better it was to Canterbury's credit that they stuck to their task. They got their reward just before half-time when a textbook lineout catch and drive saw winger Dwayne Corcoran run a lovely line and Kyan Braithwaite added the extras.

Despite the best efforts of both sides the second period was to become a catalogue of missed chances and handling errors, not aided by the deteriorating conditions.

The city side were forced to defend for long periods as Clifton's forward pressure grew, but all they conceded was a penalty goal which left them 10 points behind.

With only 10 minutes to go they were still to have their moments - a powerful break from skipper Jamie Stephens put flanker Alex Evans into space, but the overlap was missed and the opportunity lost.

Evans was to make amends two minutes later when driving over to score from close range. Braithwaite again converted and Canterbury went in search of the score they needed for victory. It proved to be one task too many.

Canterbury host Westcliff on Saturday.

Dwayne Corcoran scored one of Canterbury's tries at Clifton. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Dwayne Corcoran scored one of Canterbury's tries at Clifton. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
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