St Leonards Cinque Ports took a bare 15 players to Ashford Barbarians to take part in a pre-season tournament.
Ports saw it very much as an extension to pre-season training, with the hosts joined by strong mixed squads from Folkestone, Dover and Bexley.
The impromptu nature of the Ports side was characterised by captain Murray Warman playing at flanker. Ports also had a truncated warm-up prior to facing Ashford Barbarians who had already played one game against Dover.
Despite the short warm up Ports started strongly. Good running through the phases by Tom Ingram, Mickey Scriven (pictured above) and Greg Montier gave Ports good territory. A penalty allowed the Barbarians to release the pressure and despite dogged defence led by Warman they could not stop the hosts scoring.
The second period saw Ports dominate. A clever short line out saw Tom Monks drive forward, Montier bumped off defenders but was brought short, his offload found Scriven. Henry Hill converted.
Hill and half-back partner Steve Hall kept the pressure on and smart line by destructive centre Matt Standen found his way over the line. Hill again slotting, for a 14-5 win.
The second game saw Ports face a strong Folkestone II side. Ports maintained the structured play and controlled the ball well. After a period of dominance Hill switched play cleverly and slick passing saw Jake Waring over in the corner playing his first ever game of rugby.
Folkestone came close to scoring but brutal work at the breakdown by Nick Giles and Monk kept the line safe. In the second half the boot of Dan O’Rourke kept Ports on top, before a meandering run by Warman with some sharp offloads saw Waring arrive at pace to dive over in the corner for a spectacular second and a 10-0 win.
Ports faced unbeaten Dover knowing a win would place them in the final, Ports again grinded through the phases. Montier and Scriven carrying strongly. O’Rourke slotted a penalty before two breakaway tries gave Dover a 12-3 lead.
Ports grinded through the second half, and dominated at the set-piece. Ingram scored from the base of a scrum to bring Ports within two point of Dover.
Ports knew time was running out and a scrum 40 metres out gave a strong platform, before Dover made the scrums uncontested. Montier still made yards but a knock-on gave Dover a 12-10 win.
Ports still had the chance of the final but Bexley had been the strongest team throughout and Ports legs were a little heavy in the 28-0 defeat. Despite this Kim Wan and Joe Whitehill-James showed strong defence and attack respectively.
Bexley won the tournament, with Dover runners up. Ports came third despite the small squad and a number of players playing out of position.
Team Manager Gavin Thomas recognised what the tournament had achieved: “We viewed this as a live training exercise and we achieved everything we wanted, we played simple structured rugby and beat some strong teams and pushed Dover really hard. It gives us a strong foundation for the season.
A number of players performed well, Scriven was a dynamo, Hill was generally controlling the play but E-Heat man of the match was Greg Montier. He tackled ferociously, carried with real strength and brought a new off-loading dimension to his game
Squad 15 Whitehill-James 14 Waring 13 O’Rourke 12 Standen 11 Steele 10 Hill 9 Hall 1 Monks 2 Montier 3 Giles 4 Thomas 5 Wan 6 Scriven 7 Warman 8 Ingram