Ports hold nerve in Police thriller

Met Police (Hayes) 19
St Leonards Cinque Ports 24
(HT 0-21)

Ports travelled up the A21 for a friendly against new opposition in the Met Police.

Despite travelling with a sizeable squad there were a number of changes in the Ports team, the clock being rolled back with Paul Smart skippering the side.

Ports found themselves playing down the sizeable slope in the first half and played sensible structured rugby, Smart kept the phases ticking. Ports hold nerve in Police thriller and George Upton both carried well, before Upton broke free. He fed Joe Whitehill-James, the stepper was playing at centre for the first time and he found his way over the line. Luke Barningham converted.

Joe dancing
Joe Whitehill-James dances through the defence.

Mickey Scriven was the go-to carrier, and Whitehill-James stretched the opposition defence with every step. Ports were probing and Whitehill-James combined well with Mike Hutchins before Scriven came close. Ports drove the ensuing scrum onwards, and the veteran Craig Barningham showed great control to dive on the ball for a pushover try. His son Luke again converting.

The game fell into a scrappy period, Max Olujobi was a willing runner and Matt Standen and Scriven drove Ports on. The Police broke back, but a dangerous attack was turned around by an Ash Mountain interception.

Olujobi broke the defence and fed Gavin Thomas, Thomas fed Scriven who was brought down inches from the line. Standen smashed forward from the base of the ruck to add another try. Barningham again converting.

Max escapes
Max Olujobi evades a tackle

Ports continued to control the game as the half came to an end. Scriven, Mountain and Jake Waring all made good yards but the points didn’t come. The Police used their knowledge of the pitch well, they drove towards the line. Scriven and Henry Hill made key tackles. Whitehill-James also worked defensively, but despite strong efforts from Standen the line was broken. The hosts felt the game was in their grasp, Scriven and Mountain did drive back but it required the defensive efforts of Hill to hold them back.

A well worked pushover try from a maul brought Hayes within nine points. Ports then made a number of key defensive acts Mountain put in a huge tackle to prevent a try, and Standen made a number of key jackals.

The Police worked another try from a maul, but another Standen tackle and jackal gave Ports a penalty. The nerveless Barningham stroked home with the final act of the game.

Captain on the day Paul Smart said afterwards: “It was a very good win against decent Kent opposition. We were very structured in the first half, lost our way in the second half but held our composure to win”.

Many players stood out, Hill showed real steel in defence, Mountain was a big ball carrier and worked well defensively but E-Heat man of the match was Mickey Scriven. He carried faultlessly, tackled aggressively and marshalled the defence well.

15 Hutchins 14 Olujobi (Waring) 13 Whitehill-James 12 Standen 11 L Barningham 10 Hill 9 Smart 1 Monks 2 Whyte 3 Giles 4 Storey 5 Mountain 6 Scriven 7 Upton (Thomas) 8 C Barningham

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