Bonus point win pushes King's into fourth place
King's victorious against Cranbrook in a mudfest at Turney Road
King’s welcomed Cranbrook to Turney Road on a wet and windy January Saturday, with both sides keen to secure the win, with the top of Kent One looking increasingly competitive.
It was the first time King’s had hosted Cranbrook since the start of last season and the talk before the game was about putting right a few wrongs from previous away trips down there, as well as the last run out against Vigo.
With the conditions doing their best to limit running rugby, the opening half was a scrappy affair. Cranbrook opted to play with the wind in the first half and clearly wanted to rack up a good lead before changing ends. They eventually took the lead through a penalty for repeated ruck infringements, although King’s defence held them out a number of times in our 22 – sometimes more out of luck than organisation.
Following the restart, King’s started to exert some pressure and some territory, following a bit of kicking back and forth. We worked our way into their 22 and following a solid scrum, the backs worked Tim over in the corner to put us ahead, with the conversion missed.
The King’s pack was starting to get on top of their opposite numbers in the scrum and ruck-time, notably counter-rucking a number of times to take back Cranbrook ball. The line-out was a bit more variable with both sides struggling to secure good possession.
We also got a penalty in the first-half, putting us 8-3 up at the break.
Pete, who’d been having a good game up until then had to retire at half-time and shortly after the re-start Calum also went down as if he’d snapped his ankle in two. The ref commented that he thought some bone must be poking out he was making so much noise. Miraculously, Calum was able to resume play a little later to cover for Liam, who went off with a nasty looking finger injury.
One can only assume Calum was just keen to play out some of the second half in the backrow to allow the artist formerly known as Captain Jack to come on at hooker. He was warmly welcomed by all, including the Cranbrook captain who was keen to see his assume the kicking duties.
Shortly after Jack came on, Chris McKeand scored the first of his two tries (I think both came in the second half although I can only recall one which saw him doing some great work down the left). Jack claimed causation, rather than correlation.
The second half became increasingly scrappy with Cranbrook tempers boiling over, helped along their way by two rather uncompromising and more or less back to back tackles from Josh. The second of these was high and was going to result in a penalty against us but for retaliation from them which saw things reversed.
From there, things got a bit aggressive but the ref handled the fraying tempers well, giving both captains a talking to. John was very clear on the need to keep our heads and stay on the right side of the ref, which we managed despite some continuing niggle.
Cranbrook started to throw everything at us and managed to score a try through their big second row following a phase of continued pressure.
However, King’s managed to secure the bonus point through the try of the day engineered by Harry and scored by Ian. It followed a solid scrum on the edge of their 22 which saw us take the ball up one phase from which Harry dinked a chip over the top as I personally looked on wondering why he was kicking away the possession I’d just given myself a hernia securing. The ball landed in space, taking a nice bounce away from the Cranbrook defenders and popping up into Ian’s hands who gratefully dotted it down by the posts.
Final score 28-8.
Exactly the win we needed which propels King’s into fourth place but only one point behind second place behind Vigo and Ashford.
Great performances across the pitch, notably from the forwards in the front row (always), Josh who put in some massive runs and Tom and Ratty for a huge number of tackles to stop Cranbrook getting any forward momentum.
The backs played a smart game all day, combining good defensive work with some great attacking play. Ian was named official man of the match following some great running and big hits throughout the 80 minutes.
Josh was named DoTD for an inexplicable kick from hand following a Cranbrook knock-on which went sailing straight to their 15 in a wonderful attacking position. Fortunately the ref decided that the kick ahead didn’t mean that advantage was over, which saw Josh’s sheepish grin rewarded with a classic 10 strop from Harry, telling him off for smiling. Proving once and for all that backs don’t know how to have fun.
All still to play for in Kent One.