Cold weather win warms King’s hearts
Report by Chris Hogwood
Before we get into reporting on the match, the most important thing to say is a huge thank you to New Ash Green, who, having heard we were doing our annual collection for presents for the children’s ward had their own whip round. The contribution is gratefully received and their generosity typifies why we all love rugby so much.
Moving on to the game, it was clear on arrival that the balmy weather in Dulwich didn’t quite make it as far as New Ash Green. It was cold. Really cold.
The warm-up didn’t do much to warm anyone up but we hit kick-off prepared for a big onslaught from NAG’s big runners – which they dutifully delivered. It felt like we were under the cosh for the first 10 minutes or so, with NAG’s making their size advantage tell in the early scrums. Some big defence from the forwards – notably John Ledger, Scott Dubery and the back row trio Oaks, Ratty and Jake – kept our line intact.
The turning point came in a defensive scrum 10m from our own line which King’s managed to turn over and allowed us to escape from our half. This allowed us to put some phases together, and win a few penalties as NAGs fell a bit foul of the referee, including a nice one in front of the sticks which Tim knocked over. All our forwards started handling well, with surges from Oli, Calum and Oaks and Dave was getting quicker ball to whip away from the breakdown.
A good line out drive then saw the forwards take it on through Oaks and then Chris Hogwood before the ball was worked out to Calum who charged over, duly converted.
Unfortunately from that point on King’s discipline let them down conceding a number of penalties which saw NAGs work their way back into the game, scoring their own penalty and a converted try following some bruising work from their forwards.
With the game finely poised at 10-10 running into half-time, Calum decided to put his hands into a ruck and deliver a Sonny Bill style off-load sending the ball flying out. The ref didn’t seem that impressed and duly gave him a yellow card. A ‘team card’ as Calum claimed…
Scores stayed level until half-time, at which point captain John Ledger stressed the need for us to be ready for what was about to come and to keep our heads.
As anticipated, NAGs came out at half-time with their heads up and ready to put the squeeze on. A few scrums from them put us under a lot of pressure but somehow we kept possession and some big hits and a few steals at the breakdown meant that we survived the 10 minutes with 14 men without conceding a score. Some big clearances from James Read also ensured that we were never pinned in our own half, and he dutifully cleared up a lot of kicks from them to ensure we were never put under too much pressure.
With Calum back on the pitch, energy levels stepped up a gear and King’s started making some powerful breaks of their own. Some strong running from the backrow and centres Ian and Ceri saw us break their line and force their forwards onto the back foot. Josh came on for Oli and gave us a lot of go forward as their tiring pack struggled to cope with his direct charges, working well in tandem with Oaks and Jake, with Pat on for Ratty also lending his apparently trimmer figure to the forward effort.
We started to clear our rucks with more aggression securing more quick ball which Tim at 10 started to distribute well across the back line allowing our Liam and Shenton some space to attack their line, with Read also cutting some good lines.
Our three tries in the second half were all scored in the right hand corner, following the ball being worked left to right and overlaps being taken. I think the sequence went Ian, then Shenton and then man of the match Tim Pope scoring. Tim converted all except his own try, which was the last score of the game.
The match ended 10-29 – a great but hard fought win on the road. Lancers away next weekend and then the Christmas party. What could be better?