King's kick-off the season with a win
Match report from captain - and DotD - John Ledger
After having to endure an entire summer of free Saturdays, Kings began the new season with a tough away fixture at HSBC. Upon arrival at the HSBC Sports Ground, it was immediately apparent that, unlike a few of the Kings players, one thing that hadn’t let itself go over the summer was the first team pitch. Looking immaculate in the early September sunshine, there was a real sense of anticipation that Kings could let their talented back line cut loose, supported by a mobile pack.
Sadly, the first 20 of the game was relatively disjointed, typical of the first fixture of the season. Kings defended well, keeping up pressure on the big runners of HSBC, and forcing dropped balls in the midfield – although sadly the same affliction affected the away side as well. After few opportunities for either team, HSBC landed a penalty to take the lead, followed by a well-finished try after good interplay in their backline. Kings were 8-0 down, without really having brought much to the table.
It was at this point that the heavens opened, which looked likely to further frustrate any hopes of a free flowing game. However, the changing conditions actually saw Kings start to click into gear – a break down the left by new boy Fraser was finished calmy with an inside ball to Harry Clark, who slid in for the try. Conversion nailed, and it was all to play for. Then, on the stroke of half time, some good work from Ratty to dive on a loose ball saw Kings go through the phases before ‘crowd favourite’ Beamer took the ball to the line, and fought his way to ground to score. Harry again slotted the conversion, and Kings went in at half time with the lead.
The message at the half was simple – more of the same. A few changes were made, including moving yours truly into the front row to ‘shore up’ a struggling scrum (a decision which had nothing to do with Jack having a tough time staying upright.)
In the second half, Kings continued to defend strongly, and take their chances when they appeared. After some strong carries in the forwards, notably by Scott Lambert and Pete Farrell, Dave’s Mate showed no signs of missing his absent friend by sniping from the base of a ruck and scoring to extend the Kings lead. Again, Harry slotted the conversion to give Kings some breathing space.
The second half then looked like it would play out with HSBC attempting to force the issue, using their dominance in the set piece to build a platform for their big one out runners. However, Harry had other things on his mind, and after good work in the backline slid in for his second, which he duly put the extra 2 on.
The final 15 minutes saw Kings camped on their own line, defending lineout drives heroically, before a scrum penalty (the least their prop deserved for playing me like an accordion for the entire half) saw them tap and go, eventually breaking through around the fringes to dot down. With only a minute to go, there was still time for Harry to see a chip charged down and give hope to their hooker that he might run in under the posts, but good covering from the guilty party saw the ball turned over and kicked into touch, to give Kings a deserved 15-28 win.
All in all, a great win for Kings to start the year off. The two debutants, Fraser and James Bousher, gave good accounts of themselves, and there were good performances across the pitch. Notable mentions to Chris Hogwood, who shuffled childcare arrangements around to put in a great shift at prop, turning over some crucial ball, and Billy Scanlan, who continues to enjoy clearing up ball at the back of a retreating scrum. And it’s a double header against Lancers at home next weekend – rugby‘s back boys, and not a moment too soon.