March 1 2015 Latest news:
By Steve Tervet Thanet Wanderers head coach Tom Carlier has urged his players to embrace the occasion when they take on Tunbridge Wells in Sunday&';s Kent Plate final.
By Steve Tervet
Thanet Wanderers head coach Tom Carlier has urged his players to embrace the occasion when they take on Tunbridge Wells in Sunday's Kent Plate final.
Carlier's side start as hot favourites, having finished the league season well clear of the relegated west Kent club, who will be without the majority of their first-choice players on Sunday because of a club tour.
Wanderers knocked out local rivals Canterbury and Deal & Betteshanger to reach this stage of the competition and they will be almost at full-strength for the final, with only Lithuanian prop Ignas Darkintis unavailable for selection as he has an international game the following weekend.
Having safely avoided relegation from London 1 South, Thanet ended the league season in relative serenity but Carlier is eager to make the campaign one to remember.
'We've put in a lot of hard work but to finish between mid-table and the bottom can be quite disappointing,' he said. 'We've worked hard but we've just chugged along. We've had individual victories to remember, but nothing solid to show for it. Now we've got a cup final and it's no more than the players deserve.
'You never expect too much in this game. We know we've got the ability to go out and do it on the day, but every dog has its day and we've gone in as the underdogs and won cup finals.'
Thanet memorably lifted the Intermediate Cup at Twickenham in 1997 and won the Kent Cup four seasons later, but silverware has been thin on the ground since then.
Carlier reflected: 'We generally do okay in the Kent Cup until we come up against the better sides in the later rounds. This season, we came up against one of the better sides [Gravesend] in the first round and we weren't playing particularly well, so we dropped into the Plate competition.
'It's given us a bit of a run, which is nice, because the lads have played some good rugby since Christmas. We've started to put it together and it would be nice to take something out of the season.'
Photo by Dave Stewart