This week's fixtures began on Monday afternoon with a group of year eight girls attending a rugby festival, Mr White led the team and described the action...
It's a funny old game, or so they say and indeed, they are often right, sometimes however the funny old game makes way for a game of tension, excitement, drama, despair and ecstasy all rolled into one. This U18 Kent Cup Semi Final epitomised all that is inspiring about sport and in one windy, wet and turbulent afternoon all present were swept up in the emotion of the experience.
Aside from the U18 girls glorious semi final encounter (see separate report) a number of other events survived the weather this week.
Monday saw the annual friendly between our Senior Boys and St Edmund's of Canterbury. The horrendous day time conditions made way for a calmer evening and on a 3G pitch under floodlights an enjoyable game was played out with Dane Court dominating possession and the scoreline. Harvey Colston scored two and St Edmund's scored two own goals as Dane Court ran out winners by four goals to nil.
After the drama of the U13 Rugby Semi Final on Monday (please see separate report) the attention returned to the football field and engagements for our Senior and U15 teams.
On Wednesday the senior team were seeking their fourth win in a row, Queen Elizabeth School (QES) were their opponents, as were the weather conditions. A constant roaring gale made playing the beautiful game a much uglier prospect and it would prove to be significant leveller. Dane Court opened brightly and despite the conditions tried to pass the ball and did with some success, a number of opportunities were created but spurned until eventually half way through the first half Harvey Colston found the net. Arriving on the edge of the box his drilled effort went through the keeper to earn a lead that was deserved. QES responded with enthusiasm however and equalised after an effort rebounded off of the bar and their striker reacted quickest to bundle the ball over the line. Dane Court continued to play and create chances but could not capitalise before the half. A similar pattern would develop in the second half but as numerous chances were passed up tension crept into our play and the ball refused to find its way over the opposition goal line. QES continued to pose a threat on the break and from one such effort they scored their second and the games decisive goal. An impressive cameo from James Peskett added further emphasis to the Dane Court attack but QES stood strong to see out the victory and leave Dane Court pondering what could have been. Efforts must now be redoubled to bounce back against local rivals St George's next week.
Our talented year tens played their third round Kent Cup tie on Thursday against Herne Bay High. Having beaten them earlier in the year confidence was high but thankfully complacency was not apparent. A spirited perfomance from our visitors was quelled but our own style of play was tested by the blustery cross wind. However, once we learned how to control the pace of our pass the result was never in doubt. With our back four giving an exemplary performance of their unit skills the dangerous midfield were released to support the tireless front running of James Mileham. Foster and Jordan in the centre of the park regularly supplied quality possession to Yogendran and Paxman on the flanks; they in turn tormented their full backs to set up a host of chances. A mixture of last ditch defending and wasteful finishing meant the scoreline was closer than Dane Court's play warranted.
Mid-way through the first half a delightfully struck free kick from skipper Adams sailed beyond the far post was met by his centre back partner Harry Holden who strained every sinew to loop the ball over the goal keeper and into the far corner. With the pattern of the game well established Dane Court passed and ran and created but could not execute the finish well enough give the scoreline a more accurate reflection of their play. The second half was twenty minutes old when yet another attack brought yet another corner for Dane Court. Paxmans delivery created panic in the six yard box and Holden was on hand again to force the ball over the line to double his and the teams tally. With the game now settled it was time to give further experience to Tyler Cox and Jamie Munt who both impressed and looked comfortable slotting into this established team. This is important to continue developing the squad as injury has already cost us two of a regular starting eleven for the whole of the season.
The next round sees us host Pent Valley later this term whilst the next appointment in the National Cup will see Holmesdale visit us on Tuesday 27 November.
On the rugby field our U14 side have had a demanding schedule with three games in five days due to several postponements of earlier rounds. Last week we hosted Harris Academy from Falconwood and came through the tie but not without a late scare. We totally dominated possession and territory in the first half and tries from Bennet Kandathy and Charlie Knight with Oli Harris adding one conversion and two penalties saw a comfortable half time lead established. The second period, which saw Dane Court ring the changes in personnel, was more even with a try for each side maintaining the points differential (Dane Court's scorer being Joe Harmes). Then with ten minutes to go a collective relaxation surrendered the initiative to our visitors who promptly ran in two more scores to ensure a nail biting finish. The 23-17 victory was deserved but too close for comfort.
This victory set up a quarter final tie away to Norton Knatchbull, Ashford in dank and miserable overhead conditions. The game proved to be a titanic struggle between two totally committed sets of players who gave everything in pursuit of victory. Hard running and tough tackling were to the fore but there were also many of the finer skills in evidence despite a greasy ball and heavy pitch. The first score did not arrive until shortly before half time when Bennet Kandathy completed a surging run by diving over the line for an unconverted try. The tension was always close to the surface but the game was played with excellent discipline and within both the spirit and laws of the game. A second Kandathy try resulted from several phases of play inside the Knatchbull twenty two when Dane Court refused to be denied a score. At ten-nil the game was not over and our hosts came storming back but the defining moment of the match came with five minutes to go when Charlie Knight performed a bone crunching tackle to prevent what appeared to be a certain try and a route back into the game. This galvanised the rest of the team to see out the last few minutes with our line intact and a hard fought victory in the bag.
The final hurdle would emerge in the form of the Howard School from Rainham. Another long journey saw the home field advantage play a role in the final outcome. A sloping pitch gave the edge to the side going downhill and it would prove instrumental. Starting poorly Court's defence was breached down the centre in the first five minutes for a converted try. Their riposte was incessant attacking pressure for the remainder of the first half. Dominant in the maul, Dane Court forced Howard back time and again whether they were the ball carrying team or the defensive team. Eventually the pressure told and Dan Adams forced a mistake in handling which he capitalised on to score under the posts. The conversion tied the game at seven. The remainder of the half would see Howard defend grimly inside their own twenty two and tellingly Dane Court would not add to their tally. The slope was with Howard in the second half and it would now be Dane Court who were forced to throw bodies into a heroic defence of their own line. The unrelenting nature of the flow proved too hard to stop however and eventually Howard scored two tries in quick succession out wide. Court refused to give in and once again roared into the Howard half with the intention of reigniting the contest. The last ten minutes were spent crashing forwards towards the Howard line but their young players were equally intent on protecting their lead and they did to ensure their progress to the final at Dane Courts expense.
A truly valiant and heroic effort over the course of five days from the Dane Court team and valuable lessons will as always be learnt as they seek to develop in the future. These boys have shown a refreshing appetite for the game and their on field success is heart-warming from such a small year group. They have superb core of players around whom the revolves and they have been instrumental in taking the whole team forwards. Captain Joe Harmes is a terrifically gifted player who leads by tremendous example. Bennet Kandathy, Charlie Knight, Tim Norman and Amod Shrestha are always prominent in the action and James Robinson and Mitchell Dennis displays skills and toughness in the tackle that belies their stature. So one game short of reaching a second final in succession but still an excellent achievement.
Match Report - U15 v Dover Grammar, National Cup Third Round
The most difficult aspect of setting high standards is being measured by these same standards. This group of players have reached impressively lofty standards in the past and they are constantly striving to build upon their achievements. This is a challenge to accept. An equally high level of commitment is required, however, but it is one that the team so far have been eager to embrace and as long as they continue to strive to meet the challenges before them they will prolong their success.