by David Haigh
Canterbury 52 Chinnor 29
This game will be remembered as Tom Rogers Day. The 33-year-old hooker, making his final appearance in front of the home crowd before hanging up his boots, was at the heart of a top class Canterbury display which gave him the perfect send-off.
Head of Rugby Andy Pratt rated it one of his team’s most complete performances and paid tribute to Tom’s outstanding contribution as he score two of the city club’s eight tries.
“We could not have scripted it better,” Pratt said.
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Canterbury were direct, skilful and with a huge work rate that stunned Chinnor they played some great rugby.
Rogers made an early statement with a catch and drive try in the first two minutes and the city side then raced to a nineteen point lead.
With Tom Best tugging the strings at fly half with shrewd kicking the visitors, second in the league and playing for a place in Division One in two weeks time, were constantly on the back foot.
Royce Cadman and Aaron Cooper took try scoring opportunities before Chinnor finally won a foothold in the match.
Tries from flanker Alex Bradley and prop Jack Gilding, both converted by Jonny Bentley, closed the gap.
But Canterbury’s flair and ability to hit back quickly and effectively never allowed the visitors to establish control.
It took only a couple of minutes for this confident Canterbury to produce a bonus point fourth try.
Logan Woodbridge and Vaughn Meredith did the hard driving which opened the way for full back Aiden Moss.
The third of Best’s six conversions gave his side a twelve point cushion at the interval but Chinnor got no rest after the break as the city side opened the second half in blistering fashion.
Birthday boy Rogers was at the back of a surging catch and drive to register his second touchdown three minutes in and Canterbury took the game further away from the visitors when Moss ran in his twelfth try of the season.
Faced with a daunting 24-point gap, Chinnor dug in and enjoyed their best spell of the game.
The build up of pressure brought a yellow card for Best and, before he returned, Frank Morgan had joined him in the sin bin.
The Oxfordshire side took full advantage as Danny Barnes and fellow wingman Phil Chesters, twice, were given simple overlaps to earn a bonus point. But they never looked like winners as, even when short handed, Canterbury remained a potent threat.
JJ Murray’s piercing run opened the way for Ricky Mackintosh to finish off with a seventh try and, back at full strength, the city side hit the half century mark In the final minute, Chinnor left the blind side unpoliced and Harry Sayers sprinted through the gap to make it the perfect ending for his impressive team.
Canterbury A.Moss (repl J.Murray), R.Mackintosh, F.Morgan, C.Kingsman (repl K.Braithwaite), H.Sayers, T.Best, D.Smart, A.Cooper (repl J.Green), T.Rogers (repl J.Otto), A.Wake-Smith, R.Cadman, M.Corker, A.Woodward, V.Meredith (repl C.Townley), L.Woodbridge.