Trinity Guild vs Kings Norton, Saturday 21 October
Trinity Guild blown away by a Hopwood Hurricane.
Kings Norton left their Hopwood base for the blowy plains of south Coventry, looking for a big league win on the road. Coach Chris Hands had a full squad with plenty of firepower on the bench, so the mood was optimistic as kick off approached.
With the wind to their backs, Kings knew they needed to rattle up plenty of scores early on, given their blowy first-half ally would all too soon become a gusty second-half enemy. The visitors didn’t have to wait long as they immediately capitalised on early possession and territory, allowing Jamie Thomas to go over for a try. Scrum half Shame Rees got the conversation, and Kings were hungry for more.
Despite the wind advantage, it was playing havoc with both sides’ handling, leading to scrappiness in the middle of the park. Every handling error was welcomed by the Kings scrum though. Even on the opposition put-in, the front row of Richard Revell, Jay Rawlings and Sam Hunt were able to deliver. From a turned over scrum, old-timer Mark Waudby fed Shane Rees down the blind side who went in for an unconverted try. 0-12 to Kings Norton, and the wind was, quite literally, in their sails.
The Hopwood Men continued their first half dominance, with tries from captain Richard Revell and coach Chris Hands, to give them a commanding 0-22 lead at half time. There was no complacency though, as Kings knew that 40 minutes playing into the driving wind would be no easy task.
Trinity Guild started the second half the stronger outfit, with the combination of their fly half’s boot and the wind to establish field position. It’s a rugby truism that if you play rugby in your own 22, you concede points, and sure enough Kings conceded two tries in quick succession to give a 12-22 score line that was a little too close for comfort. This though was the kick up the whoopsadaisy that the Hopwood Park men needed to get back in the game. Despite the wind, Mike Smaylen was able to use his mighty boot to good effect, and then the increasing dominance of the Kings set piece came into play. Joe Beeswax got the scoreboard moving again for Kings with a well worked try: 12-27. As the game entered the last quarter, the hosts started to tire whereas Kings were looking increasingly on top. Where thus far, the game had been a touch scrappy, the visitors found a degree of fluency to their game that had previously eluded them, with the close driving game of the forwards punching repeated holes in the Trinity defence. Conspicuous in attack was Kris Femm, in his first game back since that heinous, potentially career threatening in-grown toenail problem.
With ten left on the clock, the waves of Kings forwards had the hosts on the back foot. Fortunately for them, the ball was coughed up, but Trinity’s attempted clearance was sliced and Kings went for the jugular. Karl Ford spotted the space out wide and was able to feed someone who went in for a very slick try. Alas, I don’t know who scored this smashing try, because your correspondent’s mind was elsewhere at the time. You see, behind the pitch at Trinity Guild there’s the Electric Railway Museum (http://electricrailwaymuseum.co.uk/). I’d spotted this gem whilst getting a ball that had gone over the fence, but more interestingly, I’d spotted a shunter engine nestled amongst a number of electric multiple units (EMUs). I couldn’t from that distance tell if it was a class 08 or 09 locomotive though. This serious question was occupying my mind during the climax of this phase of play, and whilst on balance I’d say it was a class 09 loco, I couldn’t swear to it. As to who scored that try though, I’ve no idea. I’m not sure if Kings got the conversion either, because whilst I had resigned myself to train identification failure, I then got to thinking about the Midlands Air Museum (http://www.midlandairmuseum.co.uk/index.php) that’s just a little further down the road. Pride of place there has to go to the mighty Vulcan bomber (XL360), that proudly stands guard over the site. It’s a crying shame that none of us will ever see the Vulcan in the skies again, nor hear the distinctive shriek of those engines as it roars overhead.
Anyway, back to the rugby. As the packs set themselves for a Trinity scrum, the referee called last play, yet with the game already in the bag, Kings had one more trick up their sleeve. The pack grunted and groaned, heaved and shoved, to win the ball that went out to the eager three quarter line. Kings worked the phases, both slick hands and hard driving, before Joe Beeswax took a great line and powered over for a try in the dying moments. Shane Rees added the extras to give a thoroughly respectable 12-39 win for Kings, compete with bonus point.
Player coach Chris Handsome was elusive in the post match interview. Asked how he thought the team did, he merely looked into the distance with the 1,000 yard stare and muttered “...class 09 loco...”
Kings are back on home turf next week, at home to Old Yards 3s, but before then, we have Vets Wednesday where the elder statesmen of the club take on Harborne at Hopwood Park, 7.30 kick off.
They say that winner’s beer tastes sweeter, and the ale in the British Oak in the evening was certainly going down well. Some sumptuous pints of Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale (3.8%) got the show on the road, but a victim of its own success, it ran out. This gave us an excuse to try an assortment of other ales: the Cornwallian pair of Sharp’s Doombar (4%) and Tribute (4.2%), from the St Austell brewery. Chris Handsome chewed his way through a few halves of Fuller’s London Pride (4.1%), whereas others were treated to Purity’s UBU (4.5%). (Next time you’re down at Alcester RFC, pop along to the Purity brewery that’s just down the road. It does smell a bit there, but its well-stocked beer shop is a treat and a half.) At the other end of the spectrum, Webmaster Smollett was having a very civilised glass or two of pinot noir, that had a zesty freshness to it, with an undercurrent of summer berries. The liquid refreshments were complemented by a couple of bags of scratchings. We’re all class at Kings Norton!