- Crucial kicks by White complete turnaround
- Big Warwickshire lead reined in by Kent
Kent 33 Warwickshire 27 aet
Kent coach Chris Wilkins hailed his side’s fortitude under pressure after a dramatic comeback victory over Warwickshire in the Plate final of the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup.
The meeting of the South and North winners of Division Two in the Bill Beaumont Cup went to extra time at Blackheath’s Well Hall ground but only after Kent had fought back from trailing 27-10 with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.
Blackheath full back Tom White calmly landed two penalties in the first half of extra time to seal the win, but the match would not have reached that stage without his touchline conversion of Blackheath hooker Jack Knight’s try in the last minute of normal time.
Knight threw a give-and-take with club-mate James Cleverley at the front of a shortened line-out and was driven over at the corner, with White’s brave kick tying the scores.
Kent had an early lead when Gravesend’s Fijian No.8 Viliame ‘Socks’ Stephens scored a pushover try converted by Blackheath centre Paul Humphreys, who added a penalty.
It was 10-10 at half time after Rugby Lions wing Joe Marston cut a clever angle to score Warwickshire’s first try converted by Nuneaton scrum half Huw Thomas, who added a penalty.
Thomas struck again two minutes and further tries from centre Phil Reed (Rugby Lions) and back-row forward Nigel Mukarati (Broadtsreet) both of which were improved by Thomas appeared to have put Warwickshire in control.
But Kent fought back, reducing the deficit with a try from Dover wing Ricky Mackintosh and a conversion and penalty from White, with Humphreys having gone off, before completing the turnaround in fine style.
“We started well then struggled to link our backs and forwards,” said Wilkins, Kent’s co-coach with Simon Jervis. “We asked the players at half time to up the pace but we had a nightmare period and were all at sea.
“We made some replacements using the rolling substitutions which have been on trial in this season’s County Championship and got our belief back when Ricky Mackintosh scored. And it was good to see how the team reacted to being all those points down.
“Our scrum half was away and [lock] Tom Stradwick and Paul Humphreys had to come off during the match but we were able to cover for them. We have developed a broader squad this season and that really paid dividends.”