The MACK’s have a new name: the MACKT’s (Might Acorns Champions’ of Kent Twice!)
On a cloudy April Sunday a fine body of Men gathered at Sevenoaks RFC ready to take the long journey to Maidstone RFC to play in their 3rd Kent Cup Final. Spoiler alert: the following report includes some very mild taking of the proverbial Michael, all in good spirit none of it intended to offend ;-)
A tough path to the Final against New Ash Green saw the Acorns disposing of Bromley, Old Dunstonians, Sidcup and Westcombe Park without passing a ball! It seemed our worthy oppositions knew of our reputation and decided to catch up on Corrie.
Mr Evergreen himself, sporting a new Captain Bird's-eye beard, Drop Goal Billy Park had assembled a rather exciting team of youth (all relative!) experience, pace, hard running and physical men ready to play their hearts out for the honour that the Acorns brings. A special inspiration was a warm message from fellow Acorn (and KC winner!) George Roffey who is battling but wining a serious illness.
An intense warm up with a great deal of stretching ensured Physio Harry's expertise put to good use. The lorry load of tape and Deep Heat depleted. Captain Tom Kelly led the men out onto the battlefield and the excitement could be felt around the ground with fantastic show of supporters from the Oaks faithful.
A nervous start gave New Ash Green, resplendent in pirate-themed tour shirts, plenty of possession pining Oaks back inside their own 22 for the first 10 minutes, the first time we had a chance with ball in hand the juggler Will Morris made saw he handed it back to Green with a knock on. Then whilst trying to make amends he gave away not one but two penalties!
Finally, a good passage of play led to the Acorns 1st try, full back and gas man Alex Barber passing to another gas man Del McCrone who skinned his man on the outside for a fine try under the posts converted by Mark Reay. 7-0 Game on!
Catch and drive from the kick off and quick ruck saw Del receiving a well-timed floating pass form centre Tim Golds, try 2.
Our forwards started dominating the breakdown with OBS making hard yards, Adam Hutcheson and Mike Walton superb in the line out and strong scrummaging led to a solid platform. With flankers of quality like Ian Collins, Deon French and TK hardly a tackle was missed and Green's big pack and quality No 8 had nowhere to go.
Realising our backs had more pace and better hands than the Oppo meant scrum half Dale Smith ensured quick ball from the base of the scrum in our own 22, smooth passing from Tim and Will (yes, he caught the ball!) out to Del who secured the first Jug of the day – try 3!
Further strong running and forward domination from the likes of Matt Rae took play back to their 22 with quick ball and a three man overlap completely ignored by Reayman who defied surgeons and his Wife to be on the pitch sidestepping left and right with a dummy of 20 years ago scoring under the posts TRY 4!
Still giddy from scoring 24 unanswered points we did our usual and let the oppo have the ball with silly penalties and careless knock ons. Green took advantage of our kindness with Brighty allowing their rather unyielding Prop burn him on the outside, yes burn him with Brighty waving him through like directing traffic in Marble Arch in his day job! Green was on the board with a quick try form a penalty 24-5 at Half Time.
Team talk from Tom Kelly, something about possession never quite sure! A change of the back line with Paul Eversfield controlling things at 10, and physical centres of Dan Scott and Miles Hayward (who the day before against TW decided to see who was the hardest, one broken nose and one black eye later!) with Simon Wright and Allan Johnstone on the wings.
It wouldn’t be the same if the Acorns started out of the blocks quickly..so we didn’t allowing Green to get a full head of steam scoring a well worked try 24-12
Bouncing Allan Johnstone had other ideas and son Michael watched on in disbelief as he broke from his own 22 the bouncing bomb scored a monumental over 50s try meaning SAGA has cancelled his free bus pass. TRY 5.
Then 5 minutes of madness saw a nameless (or maybe incognito) Acorn sent the the bin to warm the bench for five minutes! With 14 Men now, discipline started to implode and why play with 14 when you can play with 13! Another Acorn was sent to the bin for a high tackle.
Thankfully our defence held strong against a tiring Green and a few moments later a good catch and drive from Kent Cup winner x4 Big Malcs led to a strong run with ChiChi trundling a long side passing to new boy Alistair back inside to Pete Wilson where the seas parted, and he found himself with more space than Star Trek and about 50 yards still to run. Brighty helped the last 5 yards seeing that Pete was about to collapse and dotted down under the posts. TRY 6
With fresh legs of P’Nut at Scrum half, Mik Benicchi at centre the game started to open up. Manager Billy Park complementing the line-up but sadly not attempting his infamous Drop Goal (DGB). The scrum was also bolstered with Jack Mortassagne (who only ran 50 miles the day before!) and Rob Thurnel who only played 80 minutes in a MOM performance the day before!
Mik making one of his classic breaks, fastest player over 10 yards before the hamstring pings! Passed to Dan Scott who is unstoppable 1 yard out! TRY 7 with Green realising the end was near the mighty Acorns went in for the kill with some further great linking of play leading to a score right from the training ground, a move the Coach Bowman will no doubt use with the 1st team! Deon French putting the final nail in the coffin with TRY 8! 5 conversions giving a huge FINAL score of 50-12 to the Acorns!
A terrific win from an outstanding team but huge credit to a spirited New Ash Green side who were unbeaten for 4 seasons! Massive thank you to our supporters proving it really is one club and to Maidstone RFC for hosting and Richard Ewance for his tireless organisation. The cup was lifted by our Captain Tom Kelly mumbling something about the Six Nations.. Sore bodies but happy hearts.
And then the journey began back on the bus with a good old sing song and a few ales at the Chequers….BRING ON NEXT SEASON!