King's see off Whitstable challenge
By Chris Hogwood
King's emerged victorious, but were made to work hard by a motivated Whitstable team.
A bonus point win at home makes for a nice story, but the truth is King's were given a scare by Whitstable, who came to play.
The match began well for the home side, who started with great intensity in defence and with the forwards hitting rucks with intensity. The first few scrums also suggested that this Whitstable pack could be put under pressure when it mattered, with the King's tight five (front row combined age of 140-odd) getting a good nudge on to mess up their put-in.
The first 15-20 minutes went very positively with two tries from Ian Williams - the first running a hard line following a well-timed pass from Harry; the second one of those moment where Harry seems to have the ball on a string, with a delicate chip over and the bounce sitting up very nicely for Ian to gather and collect under the sticks. Both converted.
In the first half, both sides' line-outs were working well. King's managing to use theirs effectively to secure quick ball and then to set up a driving maul that saw Jack crash over for another try. Also converted to make it 21-0.
It felt like King's were in the ascendancy but this turned into complacency, with some bite dropping in defence, and a loss of concentration in one scrum which saw Whitstable work the ball into the King's half and following a maul, work an overlap on the short side to score. Conversion missed and that was half-time.
While all the talk at half-time was about playing the first 15 minutes again, the second half started badly for King's with Whitstable clearly sensing our composure was lacking. With some good running from their No 8 and assorted forwards, they crossed twice in quick succession to make it 21-15 and game well and truly on.
A few calming words from the senior players and King's went about the next phases with a new sense of purpose, chasing kicks more aggressively and ensuring Whitstable had to play more out of their half. This plan saw Whitstable rush a clearance kick, which dropped to Harry who then put together a moment of class to step the onrushing defender and then chip the cover to regather and score in the corner. He missed the conversion though, so he can't be that good. 26-15
This restored King's sense of cohesion and the forwards again started to hit their targets more, including taking a couple of balls against the head at scrum time. Harry kicked a penalty to make it 29-15 to put us more than two scores ahead.
King's managed to cross the line following another rolling maul from a line-out. Despite Whitstable's pack reversing rapidly, the referee ruled that Jack (obviously he had the ball at the back) failed to ground it - which seemed difficult to believe.
George decided that, whatever Harry could do, he could do better attempting his own chip and chase down the right wing. Offering a slightly different variation to Harry, George elected to kick it straight into the Whitstable player's face and thus play a clever 1-2 off him to regather and score his own try in the same spot as Harry #tekkers. Harry converted this one to secure a 36-15 win.
Great collective performance with the tight five - Hogwood, McAvoy, Hawkins, Wilson and Wagg - scrapping hard to secure decent ball, with the back row and centres putting in strong defensive displays. Man of the match was awarded to George Wagg for great energy around the park, good shoving at scrum time and making a mess at the breakdown.