Canterbury recorded a stunning 19-12 win on the road at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday to boost their National 2 South survival chances and dent the hosts’ promotion hopes.
It was a second straight victory over a top team for a battling city club and a first win on the road, built on a foundation of centre pairing Ricky Mackintosh and Charlie Harding, paired together for the first time in a year after injury.
The pair combined for the visitors’ three tries, Mackintosh crossing twice in a first-half dominated by Canterbury, the first after 11 minutes after play was switched from left flank to right.
Tom Best’s conversion came back off the post, but he did add the extras after Mackintosh’s second score on 20 minutes, the ball being ripped from a Stortford hand before Mackintosh raced clear.
The city club could not take advantage of further openings and were made to pay when they lost a scrum and Nick Hankin burst forward to send Sam Winter over.
The 12-5 half-time lead disappeared 10 minutes into the second half after a penalty led to a spell of pressure, with Matt Tomlinson driving over to give George Cullen an easy conversion.
Some aggressive city club defence prevented the hosts completing a comeback and in a tense and scrappy final 20 minutes it was the Essex side who committed errors and conceded turnovers, one dropped ball giving Mason Rosvall the chance to dash clear before sending Harding through for the crucial score, converted by Best.
Canterbury withstood late pressure and ran down the clock to ensure the win which took them 12th, five points clear of the relegation-zone.