First XV - Report
Kings Norton vs Pinley (Away)
KINGS NORTON withstood a determined effort from hosts Pinley on Saturday to seal a 14-5 victory and clinch a Midlands Three West (South) double over a side who put everything into trying to avenge their 23-22 loss at Hopwood Park in October.
The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to a pre-match pitch inspection which saw the referee move the game to Pinley's sloping second but frost-free pitch.
Kings kicked-off into the low sun and attacked from the off, forcing Pinley to gather under pressure, and this led to them being penalised for killing the ball from which Chris Carlin opened the scoring with a straightforward penalty.
Kings maintained their early pressure and five minutes later Carlin's long range penalty effort was just wide of the mark.
This early period of the game saw a focused Norton using the ball wisely with both Ken Whitehouse and Louis Stelling putting in some long range efforts to pin the hosts deep into their own territory.
Yassin Ayachi almost scored from a great run involving the backs but was finally stopped short of the line and penalised for not releasing.
Pinley slowly hauled themselves into the game and after 20 minutes and a sustained period of pressure scored an unconverted try off a drive to briefly take the lead.
Kings then lost Chris Hands for ten minutes for retaliation and the visitors had to defend stoutly, whilst almost immediately afterwards No 8 Mark Waudby's shoulder injury forced him to leave the field to be replaced by Sam Woodward, who entered the fray and was soon in evidence in typical style with his powerful pick and drives.
With 15 men back on the pitch, Kings were able to regain the advantage by working hard as the home side lost their composure.
One superb move which commenced with a monster pass from Whitehouse to Gareth Johnson saw the latter's strong running take him 25 metres and Woodward gathered at the breakdown and Pinley were punished for foul play, allowing Carlin to accurately kick his second penalty.
Pinley finished the half with strong forward play and Kings had to defend stoutly for a long last five minutes, although the home side constantly lost their territorial advantage by negative play and were sent back with long range penalties from Stelling and Whitehouse.
Beginning the second half with a 6-5 lead, Kings opened the period with a great bullocking run by Tom Hatfield - playing only his second game after recovery from a broken leg - and with Tom Kendrick in close support the ball was taken on.
When the drive was held, Hands went forward and skipper Phil Stock fed a long pass out to his backs and Yassin went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Pinley were now pinned back by a determined but battered Norton, whose discipline held firm against the intimidating efforts of the home side, whose own supporters' touchline behaviour only fuelled the situation.
There were many stoppages, mainly for head and blood injuries, and at the midway point of the half Pinley had a player yellow-carded.
As the game progressed into the final 15 minutes a melee broke out involving many players and the referee - who had controlled this difficult game extremely well - had to lecture both captains to avoid a possible abandonment.
As it was the game was played out with Carlin adding another successful penalty to widen the visitors' lead beyond Pinley's reach and deny them a losing bonus point.
The victory maintained Kings' grip on fifth spot and they will be keen to maintain their excellent momentum - which has seen them win four successive matches - when they host leaders Earlsdon on January 28.
A successful weekend for Kings Norton was capped by victories for their other two teams as the seconds won 23-12 at Old Griffinians and the thirds won 21-10 at home to Aston Old Edwardians.
Read more: Battling Kings show resolve to win | Redditch Standard